How Much Praise is Too Much Praise
Simple recognition can go a long way for employee motivation. However, there is a fine line between positive reinforcement and recognizing with a physical reward. Chester Elton, otherwise known as the “apostle of appreciation”, is a motivation expert having co-authored several successful leadership novels and serves as a culture consultant to Fortune 100 firms such as American Express, AT&T and Pepsi. Elton believes the number one driver in engagement is opportunity and well-being, which is inspired by acknowledgment and gratitude. Showing recognition takes little effort and has a big return, but some business leaders either overuse praising or do not fully understand how to properly execute it.
Being recognized for accomplishments is a reward-mechanism that has been instilled in us since we were children, especially with the Millennial Generation. Recent studies show that our society has become an achieve-and-reward community, creating conceited children. An Ohio State University study suggested that having high self-esteem is positive, but having the notion you are better than everyone else is an act of narcissism, which is harmful to our culture and work environment. Employees who gain a “big head” after praise can exhibit disruptive behavior and extrude an egocentric outlook. However, when management and business leaders pay attention to employee’s reactions when receiving praise, they can properly monitor their delivery when granting recognition.
Building your employees confidence in their work comes with showing frequent appreciation, but there is a method to the madness. It is integral to balance praise with constructive feedback in order to ensure employees do not become over confident. Listening and seeing how employees take compliments will give you a better idea of how they will utilize their praise in the office and around colleagues.
Timing and delivery are the most important factors in granting praise or a reward. Any type of recognition should be executed close to the final accomplishment or behavior. Depending on the level, as well as the effort it took to complete the task, determines whether it should be verbal or physical praise. Physical rewards, such as a Skullcandy or Gaiam watch, should be held as a higher form of recognition than verbal acknowledgment. As for delivery, understanding that not everyone is the same seems fundamental, but is often overlooked. Therefore, to properly motivate your employees, it is important to comprehend their likes and dislikes. While some would be attracted to public recognition, such as a social media posting, other’s would not approve or be motivated by this sort of action.
Recognition is a consistent balancing act that should not promote self-absorbed behavior in the office. Keeping track of your employee recognition helps ensure you are praising them at with a reasonable amount. It is also necessary to not take advantage of your power to recognize employees. Try and make it an act that is truly valued by your employees. Utilizing praise in the appropriate and most effective manner can drive a high level of retention, motivation and performance from your employees.