Monday, June 16, 2008

Thought for the Week - 6/16/08

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.” -- Sam Walton

As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” In other words, you will get far more from your employees by catching them doing what’s right, rather than catching them doing what’s wrong. Praise and encouragement will do far more to reinforce desired behavior than criticism ever will.

However, we must be genuine and timely in our praise in order for it to have any real positive impact. If you can not be genuine in your praise, you might as well save your breath. Too many employees have been burnt in the past by false praise and have learned to question the motives of the people giving the praise.

Genuine praise is a critical tool in both developing and maintaining positive employee morale and engagement. However, praise alone (i.e., general statements of appreciation, “pats on the back,” etc.) often falls short of the mark. Moreover, if given continuously or without specific examples it can seem shallow and/or contrived. What’s worse, it may even send the message that you really don’t know specifically what the individual does or how they are actually performing.

On the other hand, providing “encouragement” in addition to praise can go a long way to building self-esteem and pride in one’s work. For example, being specific about a positive interaction you see between an employee and customer or between two employees not only tells the employee that they are doing a good job, but it also lets them know that you are noticing what they are doing.

How often do you praise your employees?

What are some of the ways you encourage your employees?

What do you believe to be the difference between praise and encouragement?

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