All About Praise

Wed, Dec 10, 2008

Human Resources

Some employees don’t go above and beyond the call of duty even when they know it will help the company, because they think nobody will recognize their efforts. Their attitude is, “Even if I do this, nobody is going to notice anyway. So what’s the point?”

In a client employee satisfaction survey, the question about whether the company cared about the welfare and happiness of its employees drew divergent views. Some people agreed; others disagreed. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said that praise and attention from their supervisor would make them feel as if the company cared about them and their well-being. As you might also expect, money, benefits, and events such as company lunches ranked high, too. But recognition from the supervisor ranked above all other choices. (Source: Kick Employee Recognition Up a Notch [1])

Managers who prioritize employee praise understand the power of praise. They know that employee praise is not just being polite to people.

  • Employee praise can be an effective communication tool to reinforce and reward people to produce most positive results for your business
  • When you recognize people effectively, it reinforces positive actions and behaviors. Employees feel cared about and appreciated and so repeatedly demonstrate such behavior
  • It is widely believed that recognition and appreciation of employees brings about quality output

So’¦.. Even though your workload is likely heavy and the employee is difficult, do your best to stay informed about all of the good things that your employees are doing and look for opportunities to praise them. You don’t want to just give feedback to employees when they do something wrong!

How-to Praise

Praising an employee for his/her contribution serves as an acknowledgement of good work. It is the single largest factor in employee motivation. The following rule can be used to effectively Praise as a tool for motivating employees.

The SEE Rule

The acronym has the following meaning:

S for specific
E for express feelings
E for encourage

Let’s see the details of each as follows.


Tell them what they did right and be specific. Most bosses concentrate on what workers do wrongly. By rewarding positive, productive behavior, workers will learn quickly how to do the job right, what is acceptable, and what behavior results in praise.

Example: Just saying to someone, “Good job” is nice but it is not very helpful because he or she does not know specifically what is good, what can be done again to earn the praise. You can add value to the praise by letting the individual know what positive effect his or her action had on colleagues or customers; for instance ‘I liked the way you handled the customer’s problem. Accepting your mistake and apologizing helps restore the customer’s faith in the company. You did just right.’

Express Feelings

Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and other people who work there. The effective manager feels good about workers doing things right and expresses those feelings sincerely and consistently. People appreciate this – they receive a warm feeling every time the effective manager shows appreciation and recognition for a job well done.

Example: ‘I am very happy that you helped the company from losing an old customer. That’s real customer service. It certainly serves an example for all the sales people in our company. I wish everyone in the sales department follows your example.’


Encourage them to do more of the same. They are on the right track, let them know that. Encourage them to repeat good work.

Example: ‘you are doing great. Keep it up. I want to see you excel more often.’

Storytelling in business

Praise can evolve into something bigger ‘“ stories that change the culture. Stories can change minds, and change companies.

How do you persuade people? The most conventional way is through rhetoric – a PowerPoint presentation giving statistics and facts and quotes from reliable sources. And you say, ‘Here’s the company’s big challenge and here’s what we need to do to prosper.’ However, people have their own set of perceptions, statistics, and experiences. They are not inspired to act by reason alone.

How can you motivate people to reach certain goals? ‘By engaging their emotions’, says Robert McKee (Hollywood’s top writing consultant) ‘“ ‘uniting an idea with an emotion.’ The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener’s emotions and energy. A story expresses how and why life changes. It begins with a situation in which life is relatively in balance: you come to work day after day, week after week, and everything is fine. You expect it will go on that way. But then there’s an event that throws life out of balance. You have a new job, customer threatens to leave, profits plunge, etc. A good storyteller describes what it’s like to deal with these opposing forces, work with scarce resources, make difficult decisions, take action despite risks, and ultimately discover the truth. All great storytellers have dealt with this fundamental conflict between subjective expectation and cruel reality. (from the book Squirrel Inc.)

How to craft a story?

Stories are told every day in organizations throughout the world by busy executives to achieve real-world objectives. Stories are used to narrate complex ideas. The following are some guidelines for crafting a story to drive organizational change.

Step 1: Get clarity on the purpose of the story. What’s the change you are aiming for?

Example: ‘Processing invoices offshore to reduce operational cost’; purpose of the story is to bring a change in the way invoices are processed through offshoring.

Step 2: Think of an incident, a story, where the change has already happened.

Example: When telling story to a law firm to outsource ‘“ ‘XYZ law firm outsourced patent filing in order to take advantage of cost savings. They were previously spending five times more on patent filing process.’

Step 3: Tell the story from the point of view of a single protagonist who is typical of the potential audience. Listeners need a person to relate themselves to in the story.

Example: Jim, CEO of XYZ, faced competition from the new firms in his city. With competition increasing by the hour, he needed a magic tool to survive as well as stay ahead in the market. To steal the market share required reducing costs and passing the benefit to the customers. And that was possible, in the globalized world, through offshoring. He had heard success stories of big businesses tapping the large pool of resources in India and China. So Jim decided to send work offshore where patent processing charges were 1/5th of the cost in his home country.

Step 4: Specify the time and place where the story happened. Giving the date and place convinces the listener that this really did happen.

Example: ‘In year 2003, XYZ law firm from New York outsourced patent filing to a law firm ABC in Bangalore.’

Step 5: In telling the story, make clear what would have happened without the change idea.

Example: ‘Imagine what Jim would have done in an increasingly competitive market. He would have suffered losses while he struggled to sign up accounts offering nothing exclusive to the customers. He would not have gained a competitive edge without offshoring.’

Step 6: Strip the story of unnecessary detail. The idea is to absorb the listeners completely in the story and spark a new story in their mind. They should be thinking about their own situation.

Example: Skip details like ‘Jim researched the public library. He attended seminars on offshoring. He met experts in this field. He spent hours digging up information on the vendors in India’ etc.

Step 7: Make sure the story has an authentically happy ending. A story with a happy ending generates a gentle euphoria, compels the mind to think about a promising future.

Example: ‘Jim was not sure about the success of offshoring in his case ‘“ a small business ‘“ for he had heard about the successes of big businesses only. However, he decided to give it a shot. When he did, the results were too good to be true. He now saves 1/5th the cost, time difference allows him to work faster, and his clientele is growing very fast. He has set an example for other small businesses.’

Step 8: Link the story to the change idea with phrases such as ‘think’¦.’ And ‘what if’¦’ and ‘just imagine’¦’ Provide tiny pointers to where you want them to go.

Example: ‘imagine if Jim could outsource other processes for which talent is not available in his home country or is insanely expensive: he could provide best services while keeping the costs low.’ ‘What if you can also do the same? Just think of what a huge business that could be for you.’


1001 way to reward employees
Author: Bob Nelson

Employee Performance http://www.nacdd.org/course1/admin/EmployeePerformcorrect05.txt

Praise Good Work

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