When was the last time you praised someone? If you have to think to answer this question, then you are not doing enough. People are extremely praise-deprived. They long for praise from anyone all the time. We never seem to get enough praise.
This article explores what stops us from praising others and provides a number of techniques that act as a reminder to praise others and therefore systematically improve their performances. These techniques are ideal for those in management roles who can significantly benefit from the positive effects of praise both for themselves and for their organizations.
What Are We Afraid Of?
There are many reasons why people or managers feel there is no point to praise. Here are some of the common reasons:
- The employees don’t deserve it
- I will look silly if I praise them
- The task is too simple to be praised for
- If I praise them, they would think I am soft
- If I praise one, I have to praise everyone
- I didn’t get any praise and look where I am now. Why should I praise them?
These ideas are self-destructive as they ignore the enormous benefits of praise both on the person who is being praised and the person who is praising. Many of these fears are unfounded. Everyone deserves to be praised, no matter how small their contribution. Praise is always a more powerful motivator than punishment. The person who praises is always liked because people are so eager to receive it.
Research shows that people who think praising takes something away from them may suffer from lack of self-esteem. Praising people will make them become warmer towards you which in turn will boost your self-esteem.
How to Remember to Praise
Now that you have planned to praise others, there is still the problem of falling back to bad habits. Habits don’t die quickly and to change a life-long habit of not praising others requires persistence and determination.
As with any habit changing behavior, the key is repetition and systematic reminders. So long as you are constantly aware of your old behavior and aspire to change it, you can engage in the new activity and by repetition over a period of time (about a month) completely replace it with the new behavior.
Use the following techniques to increase your ability to naturally praise others:
1. Make a list.
- Make an alphabetical list of all employees you interact with in a word processor and save it.
- At the beginning of the week print a copy of this list.
- Take this list with you everywhere you go. Fold it and put it in your pocket.
- Every time you praise someone, place a star next to their name in your list.
- Your aim is place one or more stars next to every single name by the end of the week.
- Date the sheet and file it.
- Every month, look at the previous sheets to see if your performance is improving and you are praising more often. Are there people on the list who consistently lack stars?
2. Send a praise e-mail.
- There is always something that your team accomplishes every week. Highlight this in an e-mail and send it every week to your team. Make sure you are specific about the praise so they know exactly what you are praising them for. A vague automatic praise is not valued.
3. Praise at a specific time.
- To make it a habit, fix the time so that you always remember to do it.
- Simply choose a time that is most ideal for you. For example, this can be first thing in the morning, last thing before leaving or after lunch.
- At this specific predefined time, you must praise someone. It doesn’t matter who you praise and what for so long as you find someone that is appropriate to praise and praise them for it. It doesn’t matter how small the task is that you are praising for, you just want to get into the habit of praising. This could be even as simple as praising a receptionist for being good with handling customer calls or praising a fellow colleague for making a good cup of coffee.
4. Create an automatic reminder.
- To automate the process, set yourself a periodic daily reminder to remind you to praise someone. You can set this in MS Outlook, your preferred calendar or even on your mobile phone. This way no matter where you are, you will be reminded of this so you can take immediate action.
Remember, the key to success with changing a habit is constant persistence. Repeat it until it becomes second nature.
Jim is a former Texas state trooper, entrepreneur, and corporate executive, and brings a uniquely powerful perspective and incredible resume to improving performance, productivity and profitability in organizations. Jim has been coaching and mentoring leaders, professionals and business owners for many years. He has studied with the Leadership Coach Academy and he is an active member of the International Coach Federation.