I have a crazy story for you. Crazy but true.

So, I had a leadership position at this company years ago, and I often used to give out praise to motivate the employees. Well, one day, my  HR Director told me to stop. He actually said, "You're recognizing too many people. They don't need to be praised for just doing their jobs. Remember we praise them every month when we pay them their salary"

Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?

I decided to run a little off-the-books experiment a few weeks later. I took a couple of minutes out of my day and visited the HR Director. Once there, I praised him.Told him I thought he was doing a great job, and that I appreciated the work that he was doing,

Guess what?

He was flattered, very flattered. His face said it all as he beamed a huge smile, as I handed out the fake compliment. And I swear he looked like he grew and inch taller as he puffed out his chest and then thanked me for noticing.

It's came no surprise to me. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we crave praise and recognition more than money.

Forget what you've heard about praise being for wimps. It's necessary if you're going to be an effective leader. You need to praise others, if you want your teams to achieve amazing results. What gets recognized gets repeated and motivates your teams to seek out more ways to get praised.

How to Praise

You know you need to give praise, but how do you do it? What can you do to make your praise the most effective?

You might be surprised to learn there is an actual method for praising employees. Follow some tips so you can get the most power out of the praise.

Do It Immediately

"I'll recognize that employee for a job well done, but first, I need to...."

Gosh, that is such a common thought. You're going to dole out some praise, just after you start a new project, set some goals, balance the budget, and plan an employee get-together.

The next thing you know, a week has gone by, and still no praise.

You're going to lessen the impact of the praise if you wait too long. Take a minute out your day to recognize the employees right after the accomplishment. That will generate the best results and help you build relationships with your employees.

Get Specific

Simply saying "good job" isn't enough. You need to tell the employee what he or she did to warrant the praise. That will show the employee you are invested in his or her performance. You aren't just praising the employee for the sake of giving praise. You're giving praise for a specific reason.

Make Sure the Praise Is Genuine

Never make it seem as if praise is just another item on your to-do list. When you give praise, it needs to be genuine and heartfelt, or it won't have an impact. That means you can't say the same thing every time. Show that you're truly paying attention and you are happy with the employee's work.

Make Praise Ongoing

You can't treat praise as a one-and-done situation. According to a report by Cicero Group, praise is the best way to improve relationships with managers. Employees were asked if a 5 percent salary bonus, above and beyond performance recognition, or ongoing effort recognition would improve their relationships with their managers. Forty-nine percent answered with ongoing effort recognition. Twenty percent stated the salary bonus, and 32 percent answered with above and beyond performance recognition. That means you are most likely to build a good relationship with your team if you recognize each person's efforts on an ongoing basis.

Find a Reason for Praise

You have standout employees, and they receive a lot of praise. This is a question of which came first, the good employee or the praise. If they are getting praised constantly, maybe that's why they consistently do great work.

With that in mind, start spreading the praise around. You might have to do some thinking to find reasons to praise an employee, but everyone should have something they're doing well. If they aren't doing anything praiseworthy, it might be time to rethink their employment.

Don't Criticize

You can suck the air right out of a good moment if you follow praise up with some constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is a great management tool, but separate it from praise. There is a time and place for criticism, and it's not when you're praising an employee.

Learn Your Employees' Praise Styles

Some leaders are great with doling out praise, but they don't realize that different people respond to different types of recognition. Some prefer praise in private, while others thrive in a public setting. Take the time to learn more about your employees and determine what type of praise works best for them. You might make some mistakes along the way, but you'll find your groove.

The Takeaway

Anyone who says that praise is for wimps is wrong. It is a powerful motivational tool. You will notice a boost in productivity and performance once you start throwing the praise around. Just make sure it's genuine, immediate, specific and in the style that they prefer, as this will help you build a culture of recognition which will help you significantly improve your results .

Published on: Feb 16, 2018