PRAISE: It's What a Great Leader Does to Transform a Team!

A great leader recognizes that praise can be a lot like fall leaves, brilliant but short-lived.

Have you ever seen fall colors in the Northeast?

I can still remember the first time I saw fall foliage in the Adirondack mountains. Those brilliantly colored leaves took my breath away. And then, within just a few days, the leaves were on the ground, exposing the bare trees.

Are you a team leader who wants to encourage the best out of his people?

Don’t let praise fall to the ground! Instead, consider it your “super tool.” Use it often and use it generously to make your people feel valued and appreciated, rather than unseen and ignored for what they bring to the team.

Fact #1 - Praise Fuels Performance

Research tells us that praise is one of the most effective tools for increasing performance on a team and a great leader knows that. Let’s go back to our leaf analogy. A tree gets its energy through its leaves to produce amazing fruit at harvest time. Likewise, praise gives people the energy to bring their best to others.

When praise is missing, it has significant impact on the organization. Here are a few staggering facts from the 2019 Employee Engagement Report by TINY Pulse and Gallup:

  • 50% of employees believe turnover would decrease if managers recognized their efforts more frequently.
  • Only 60% of employees said that they received praise last year.

Fact #2 – Praise Impacts the Bottom Line

Most of us don’t receive or give as much praise as we should.

That fact has a negative impact on our productivity and engagement. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number-one reason people leave their jobs is because they "do not feel appreciated."

And since a recent poll tells us that more than 50% of employees say they are looking for a new job or watching for opening, chances are good that there are people on your team right now who are considering leaving. If they leave, it will cost you money and your mind’s real estate to replace them.

Combat your people's mindset of feeling unseen or unappreciated with praise! It's the quickest antidote to negativity.

Fact #3 – Praise Doesn’t Last Long.

Just as leaves don’t stay on trees year long, praise doesn’t have a lasting effect on an individual. It has a shelf life. Great leaders coach themselves to praise their people frequently and generously.

There is a formula that can guide your praise-giving to others. And it’s easy to remember. Ready?  3-2-1.

According to Tom Rath, co-author of the book, “How Full is Your Bucket?” when the ratio of positive to negative interactions exceeds 3:1 (hence, 3-2-1!), leaders and their teams become significantly more productive than others.

3 Tips for Praiseworthy Praise

So, how can you step-up your praise game and help your team become more engaged and productive? Consider these simple tips. Make your praise:

  • Individualized. Know how each member of your team best likes to be praised. That’s it. The quickest way to find that out is by asking them about it during the onboarding process. Don’t be that boss who gives his top performer a public shout-out when she would much prefer an off-line “thank you” email!
  • Specific. Drop the tired generalization like, “You always make me laugh.” Instead, consider saying, “I love when you tell funny stories about your kids. You make me laugh but also think about my own parenting or even leadership style. Thanks!”
  • Well deserved. Train your eye to spot those moments when your people do something important for the team and its goals. Don’t miss an opportunity to acknowledge something they might not even see or value themselves. Praise them and watch how your encouragement fuels them to bring their very best to the team again and again.

Take the Challenge

Here is a challenge for you if you want to be a great leader who brings outs the best in his people. Use praise to transform your team from “unseen” to valued and appreciated.

This week look to affirm at least one of the leaders on your team in a way that’s individualized (use their name), specific (point out a specific thing they did well) and well deserved (show them the impact their action had on others). Next week bump that number to 2?

You will be surprised by the power of this simple step as it plays out in our High Performing Team Program.

If you’re looking for more ideas around getting the most out of your team, download a copy of the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

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