I’m always astounded by how many leaders ignore what’s probably taught, starting in Leadership 101: Giving praise as a leader is vital to employees’ engagement, happiness, and motivation.
Especially since I know what a huge difference a small word of praise can make.
When I receive a compliment, I’m usually not only happy about it, but I genuinely like my job more, feel confident in my abilities, and want to do more good work!
So why are too many leaders still ignoring the positive effects of praise?
Here’s what some leaders fear when giving praise:
1. People will become lazy and too comfortable
Granted, not all people have these positive benefits or even appreciate receiving a compliment. Some may even find it inappropriate or will actually become a little lazy.
I think that the art of being a great leader is to find the sweet spot between giving praise and challenging people.
All according to their individual needs and personality.
2. I could be taken less seriously & taken advantage of
I personally think that it’s ridiculous to think that someone can be taken less seriously for being friendly. But that’s just a side-note.
What has worked well for me in the past, is to address the issue at hand in a 1:1 conversation. I basically tell them that I can be harsh as well but that I’d rather keep being polite & friendly.
3. Isn’t a good salary enough?
Well, no! Trust me, I’ve worked for enough companies with above-average salaries. Still, many of these companies had extremely low employee engagement rates.
4. Giving praise doesn’t fit in with our company culture
Company culture can play a huge role in how much praise leaders give. Years ago I had one of the best leaders ever.
He was truly someone to admire and led one of the most successful teams in the department.
On top of that, he had the highest employee satisfaction rates ever seen in the entire company!
A little after I’d left, I heard that he had been let go. Why? Apparently, despite the perfect stats, no one believed that a happy team could be successful at the same time… sad!
5. It’s simply not necessary
Kind words and padding on the back don’t have a place at work? Well, to each their own.
But if you work in a culture where praise is not the norm and you do have the slightest inkling that it should be different, then yes, I think you got it right! There are numerous positive effects, which I’ll get to in the following.
So what are the benefits of giving praise as a leader?
- It makes everyone happier: Everyone knows how uplifting it can be to receive a compliment or to see the sparkle in someone’s eyes after receiving one. It’s even known to promote a release of dopamine, and as a bonus, the same goes for the giver. Yay!
- People are motivated to do even more great work and get more done to receive more praise. It’s an upward spiral. It can, therefore, be considered a method of influential leadership. But a nice one 🙂
- Employees get more confidence in their abilities and are likely to take on more responsibilities. It’s just rocket science.
- People will have your back: One of the greatest positive effects of giving praise is that you foster a positive relationship. If you encourage people to take on new challenges, make them feel good about themselves, and have their back if they mess up, these people will be there for you in return and will truly be on your team.
I’ve often heard: “Praise the good, ignore the bad”. I’m not sure I agree 100 %, as I think there should still be room for constructive feedback.
But I definitely agree to focus on the positive and give praise as a leader to encourage what you want to see more of.