Encourage success through praise and recognition

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

Business leaders focused on moving their companies to ever higher levels of effectiveness, efficiency, profitability and success look for ways to improve their business models. It takes a discerning awareness of what works — and doesn’t — in the daily operations. 

There’s a common pitfall to avoid, though, in focusing only on what’s wrong at the expense of what’s right. While this approach might achieve some short-term results, it will damage over the long run vital aspects of the business. Given their astigmatism, these leaders will fail to see what’s achieved, the efforts put forth by team members and how much the business has actually progressed over time. 

These same leaders will squash the morale of their team members with a lack of praise and abundance of criticism. In turn, team members will become less excited about being a part of and furthering the company’s mission. Top performers will likely move on. This will hurt the very effectiveness and efficiency that’s sought and profitability and success that’s desired.

Conversely, when leaders offer well-deserved praise and recognition to team members while also working to improve operations, a solid culture is built and benefits ripple throughout the business. Why? Because when people feel good — even great — about the progress they’re making and work they’re doing, they’re encouraged to stay the course. Consider how great it feels and how motivating it is when you receive praise and recognition for your efforts and hard work.

Most people thrive on praise and enjoy recognition. When a person is praised for a job well done, they feel good and valued. They’re inspired to keep up the good work. They become excited, and their response is apparent in their body language and behavior. When this happens repeatedly, they grow more self-confident, take on challenges with greater initiative and passion and become more adept at whatever it is they are doing. In other words, they’re motivated to learn, grow and become more.

On the other hand, when a person truly gives their best and receives only criticism of what they did wrong and should have done better, they feel defeated, inadequate and undervalued. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this exchange, you know it’s unpleasant experience of defeat. This is called negative conditioning, which over time leads to less self-confidence, engagement and performance and more turnover.

The desire to feel good about ourselves and the efforts we put forth constitutes a very real human need. It’s important for leaders to understand this tenet, They must change their perspectives and behaviors to offer the praise and recognition their team members appreciate and need to continue advancing. Positive reinforcement offers a much more effective leadership strategy than negative conditioning.

As I coach leaders how to lead from a position of composure and with a balanced perspective, they work with their teams in new, dynamic and more effective ways. This enables them to build empowered teams that produce the very results they want to achieve. 

When the team members in any business are supported in constructive ways — for a job well-done as well as  those areas in which they need improvement — they will perform at higher levels simply because they feel valued and encouraged to do their best. When you give others what they want, they’re more likely to give you what you want. Everyone is happier.

In your pursuit of a finely tuned business and success, don’t forget to consistently offer the well-deserved praise and recognition your team members need to learn, grow and become top performers. Doing so will increase job satisfaction and performance and reduce costly turnover.