The Best Way to Praise Team Members
Some years ago, I participated in an “effective parenting” workshop. Our son had just turned three and the idea was to explore techniques and methods which, according to parenting “experts” were found to be most effective. The workshop was based on the bestselling book “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So They’ll Talk.”
The program was far more useful than I would have imagined. Apart from the parenting aspect, I learned valuable methods of communicating which as it turns out, are just as effective with adults as they are with young children and adolescents. Primary among them is this: Always be specific when you give praise.
There is a fair amount of discussion these days on the challenge of employee engagement. It’s been reported that in general, team members feel less connected to and in tune with their employing organization. Leaders find it difficult to identify and implement ways to improve employee commitment. Here’s an insight: It takes more than “Pizza Friday.”
While there are many organizational techniques and methods available to leaders, a good place to start is by training managers and supervisors to take time and be specific when praising team members. While expressions like “nice job” and “keep up the good work” are nice, they pale in comparison with a deeper, more meaningful dialogue which zeros in on the specifics that add up to top performance. And here’s some good news: It doesn’t take a lot of time to make a bigger, more positive impact.
For example, managers who wish to offer positive feedback might start with some open questions designed to get the employee talking about what went into the decision they made and how they implemented it. Did they get advice and/or help from others and if so, who and how? Is the solution they chose something they learned or read about or did a colleague share the solution from a similar challenge they faced in the past? Were there obstacles they had to overcome? What were these and how were they moved aside?
As is the case with so many techniques, these can be taught, learned, applied, and improved over time. Leadership development programs like the Graphic Communications Leadership Institute (gcleadershipinstitute.com) focus on preparing managers to employ tactics like these as a critical first step in building the kind of lasting commitment and engagement lacking in so many organizations. The peer aspect of GCLI adds to the richness of the experience as members share challenges and solutions with each other in real time.
For more information on improving organizational communication and building a stronger high-performance culture, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.