If you want to create a culture of continuous improvement, then create a culture of recognition. Everyone wants to come to work to do a good job, very few people are just doing it for the money, and if we can find ways to recognize them to feed their self-esteem, it will encourage them to continue to do good work and to seek new opportunities for even more recognition.
What I love about recognition is that it costs nothing, yet the return on investment is significant because what gets recognized gets repeated.
I have worked in companies who frown on recognition, believing, incorrectly, that we should only recognize major achievements.
But if we want people to deliver major achievements, it starts with recognizing the little things and building on from there.
When it comes to giving feedback, the best approach that I have found is to include the 6 ingredients, in what I call the PRAISE model, and the better we can apply these the better the return will be.
You should also always follow the approach of criticizing in private, praise in public. When you praise in public, it not only shows the person being praised how much you appreciate them but it also shows others too, which is a great boost to an individual's esteem.
You need to clearly recognize the individuals, highlighting them and their contribution. Remember what gets recognized gets repeated, and we are looking to build a culture of recognition.
You need to be authentic when giving praise. You need say it and mean it sincerely. It needs to be genuine for the person to acknowledge it, accept it, and appreciate it. If you are perceived as inauthentic, the outcome will be the opposite of what you are hoping for and could negatively impact motivation.
Your praise needs to be immediate, or as immediate as possible, as this will boost the impact.
You cannot wait until an annual performance review to give the positive feedback, or until a later date. Now you can repeat the praise again at a later date, but the first feedback needs to be timely, as close as possible to the event. If you delay the praise, it can raise doubts as to whether the job performed was well done or not, and when you raise doubt it can impact future performance.
The feedback needs to be specific; you need to clarify what it is that you are praising and what you liked about it. The more specific you can be, the more likely it is to be repeated.
Just as much as what you say, how you say it extremely important. When you are enthusiastic in your praise is becomes contagious and not only does the person being praised look for more opportunities for praise, but so do those who experience the praise being given.
If you can incorporate all six of these elements when giving praise your staff will appreciate it, they will look for additional opportunities for praise, and they will also start to praise and appreciate each other, even you.
Recognition is a very powerful tool, and the more you use it, and the better you become at giving it the more benefit you and your company will receive.