Praising Employees Pays Big Dividends

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Praising Employees|Praising Employees Pays Big DividendsYou’ve read the management books. You’ve heard more than enough about engagement, empowerment, teamwork, and so forth. But there’s just one problem: In the day-to-day rush of running your business, keeping your staff motivated takes a backseat to your daily work, management crises and making your numbers.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. Too many business executives don’t make time for the one employee incentive that will never break the company budget: timely, honest thanks and praise of workers who do a good job. Research has shown that appreciation from managers is one of the incentives workers want most. For example, Gerald Graham, former dean of the business school at Wichita State University, found in one study that employees rated personal thanks from a manager for a job well done as the most motivating of 65 potential motivators considered. Unfortunately, 58 percent of the workers in Graham’s study said their managers didn’t typically give such thanks. Your employees don’t have to be like that 58 percent.

It is tricky to make time to recognize your staff during a hectic day. But I’ve seen even the busiest managers find ways to make praising employees part of their regular work habits. Here are some easy techniques you can try: one of them is bound to be a fit for you:

Make people a part of your “to do” list. This approach works particularly well for no-nonsense executive types who like to focus on getting things done. Just add the names of the people who report to you to your weekly to-do list. Then cross them off when you’re able to praise those employees, i.e., catch them “doing something right” in accordance with their performance goals. Hyler Bracey, president and CEO of the Atlanta Consulting Group, developed another, similar method that he used until praising became part of his routine. Bracey placed five coins in his pocket each day. During the day, he’d transfer a coin to another pocket every time he recognized an employee for good work. That technique helped Bracey make employee praise a habit.

Write notes at the end of the day. I learned this tip from Steve Wittert, president of Paragon Steakhouse Restaurants, based in San Diego. Wittert finds that his days are so busy that he seldom can take time out to recognize his staff. Instead, he keeps a stack of note cards on his desk, and when the pace slows at the end of the day, he takes a few minutes to jot personal notes to the individuals who made a difference that day. It became a highlight of the employees’ day to receive Steve’s simple notes.

Let technology help you. Instead of using voice mail just to assign or discuss work assignments for your employees, try leaving voice messages to praise them. You can do that from your car phone as you commute home after work, reflecting on the day’s events and the people who were especially helpful to you. You can go even further: I recently heard about one company that had created an “Applause” bulletin board on its electronic-mail system. On that public bulletin board anyone can post a thank-you to another person in the company.

Practice group recognition. Try starting your staff meetings by reading a letter of thanks or praise from a customer. Or do a “praise barrage” by going around the room in your staff meeting and asking everyone to say what they value in working with each person (this can also be written comments made on index cards by each member of your team). Create a “wall of fame” to show appreciation for top achievers — or to post any good news in the organization. Create a “successful projects” scrapbook that depicts employee teams and their accomplishments. Then exhibit the book prominently in your lobby.

How to Praise Effectively

Some managers recognize employees naturally and easily; others don’t. If you find giving praise awkward, remember these tips:

  • Be prompt. Positive reinforcement is much more effective when it comes soon after the desired behavior is displayed or result achieved.
  • Be sincere. Sure, praise is great – but if it’s not sincere, don’t bother. You’ll only sound manipulative.
  • Be specific. Avoid generalities in favor of the details of the achievement. Then employees know what specifically to do again.

Be positive. Sound obvious? Too many managers undercut praise with a concluding note of criticism. When you say something like, “You did a great job on this report, but there were quite a few typos,” the “but” becomes a verbal eraser that deletes all that came before. Save the corrective feedback for another time.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Bob NelsonBob Nelson, Ph.D., is an Opinion Columnist for CEO World and president of Nelson Motivation Inc. ( He’s a leading authority on employee recognition and engagement; a multi-million copy bestselling author of numerous books including 1501 Ways to Reward Employees, 1001 Ways to Engage Employees, and The Management Bible. He serves as a frequent presenter and consultant for companies, conferences and associations. You can contact him directly at [email protected] or (858) 673-0690.

How To Keep Your Employees Happy & Driven

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Employees|How To Keep Your Employees Happy & DrivenIf you are a business owner, hopefully, you are one of the people that realizes that the most important part of your business is your employees. Believe it or not, even in modern times, there are still a lot of business owners out there that put their employees at the bottom of the pile and more often than not, this comes back to haunt them.

In modern times, if you want to succeed in business, you have to not only do everything your competition is doing, you have to do it better, and for you to be able to do things better, you need the people on the front line to be working at their most productive.

Today, we are going to be looking at why your employees may not be performing at the height of their abilities, and why you may be doing things that cause this. After that, we are then going to be looking at some of the things you can do if you really want to get so much more from your team.

Why Your Employees May Be Slacking

As a business owner, we understand it’s going to be an annoyance if any of your team is underperforming, but, have you ever stopped to find out why they are doing what they are doing?

The sad truth is, while you may have an employee that is trying to get away with doing as little as possible, the chances are that the employee simply feels wasted and undervalued. While this may be difficult to comprehend, it’s actually one of the most popular reasons for an underperforming team member, and as you will see in the next section, it’s rather easy to fix.

So, if you are looking for a way to increase the overall atmosphere in your office and you also want to see your team perform at an all-time high, then maybe you will want to consider some of the tips below.

Offer A Good Benefits System

The first thing we are going to be looking at today is what you are offering to your team that makes them feel valued.

If you are one of many business owners that simply employs somebody only for them to find out that there are zero benefits and nothing to be gained from working at your company, then now is the time to consider making a change to this.

By offering things like Accuplan Benefits Services on top of medical and dental plans, you will suddenly see a change in the attitudes of your team. By giving your employees something that shows them that they are more than just a number to you, you will find that the productivity rate rises exponentially.

Offer Incentives

While we are on the subject of making the team feel valued, it may fall within your interests to offer your employees incentives for reaching certain targets.

Now, when it comes to incentives, it doesn’t really matter if it’s in monetary form or whether you offer an hour off, you will find that this is enough to increase the productivity of your team tenfold and it also promotes a little healthy competition in the office too.

While some business owners see incentives as bribery, it’s actually far from it. You have to look at things realistically when it comes to your employees and see that while you may bank most of the profits, they are only getting a very small portion of that for a lot of work.

When you offer them an incentive, it’s more a way of saying thank you for everything you do.

Nurture And Promote

The final thing we are going to look at is the opportunities that you give to your team. We understand that for some businesses it won’t be viable, but if there comes a time when you need to hire a member of staff, why not look internally and ask if a current employee would be interested in expanding their horizons.

While you may not have a team member that is qualified, there is nothing stopping you from offering them a route into a different career with you. By doing things this way, you already know how hard working the person will be, and it will also cost you less while the employee is training.

Many companies are now employing this technique, and it has been shown to not only increase productivity, but it also increases employee retention rates massively.

Workplace Wellbeing—A Strategy for Leadership

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article |Workplace Wellbeing|Workplace Wellbeing—A Strategy for LeadershipWorkplace wellbeing should feature prominently in any successful organization’s strategy. Creating an environment in which a well-managed and highly motivated workforce can flourish can elevate your organization to huge success. It can exceed in positive workplace outcomes such as high levels of corporate social responsibility.

In our experience, a happy and engaged workforce delivers extra-role effort by the bucket-load. But where do you start on this journey? Further, how do you orient your organization to this perspective? Well the good news is this is relatively easy to achieve and does not cost thousands of dollars. Although marketing a well thought out wellbeing plan effectively is often overlooked, we can provide insight into how to avoid this, giving valuable advice garnered from considerable knowledge in this field over many years.

The criticality of effective workforce wellbeing plans engrained in business as usual, as part of the brand, is key to business success. A focus on continuous professional development will help employees authentically link wellbeing to leadership, ethics and integrity; allowing your business to thrive, remain highly competitive and have a strong social responsibility ethic underpinning all that it does. Employees flourish in an environment that creates this. Further, and with a focus on flourishing, an emphasis on the personal resilience of employees can pay huge dividends.

There is a plethora of models to improve personal resilience and we are particularly drawn to positive psychology, utilising Martin Seligman’s PERMA model for example. What’s in it for your people in terms of what they will gain, or not lose, from a situation is critical and needs to remain at the forefront of your thoughts when promoting your wellbeing strategy. This vital component is worthy of detailed exploration, as it clearly links to how people in the workforce can make their life better, and connect to the meaning and purpose that is so important to leading a healthy and successful working life. Get these factors right with your leaders and your strategy will be on exactly the right track.

About the Authors
StrategyDriven Talent Management Article |Workplace Wellbeing|Workplace Wellbeing—A Strategy for LeadershipStrategyDriven Talent Management Article |Workplace Wellbeing|Workplace Wellbeing—A Strategy for LeadershipIan Hesketh, PhD and Sir Cary Cooper, CBE are the authors of Wellbeing at Work: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy. Both are associated with the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work (UK). For more information visit: