Leaders Offer More Praise

People who offer more praise look for opportunities to compliment others and recognize their contributions.

Some leaders think that praise is a waste of time, or that good work is enough of a given that praising good work will make it seem like acceptable performance is somehow exceptional. But this flies in the face data that shows employees do better work when they know they’re on the right track.

We were in a session exploring ways to improve the workplace in a medical practice. One assistant, “Dana”, pointed out that she never really knew if she was doing her job well or not, because she never heard any feedback. Doctor “Jones” said, “Oh, you’re doing a great job, Dana. Don’t worry; if you screw up, I’ll tell you!”

“I’m sorry – that’s not enough for me, Dr. Jones,” Dana shot back, “I need to know if what I’m doing is right.”

“Fine”, said Dr. Jones. “I’ll tell you more.” And he did. Reluctant at first, Dr. Jones started giving Dana more praise for things like keeping instruments ready to go and sanitized, or spending time with patients who needed more education. He did this just to make peace, but soon reported that Dana was working even harder and faster, and this surprised him; Dr. Jones had always felt Dana was one of the best. But she became better; the only thing that changed was positive feedback.

The M Booth corporate team is a very positive bunch – there are a lot of “i” DiSC profiles on the team. So praise comes fairly naturally, and it serves to motivate.

Team member Keri Fitzpatrick talks about VP Lauren Arthur, who is free with her praise, and also strategic. “She’s one of the first people to shoot out emails right away to let you know that your work is being recognized.” Keri says.

Recently, Keri was pulled on to help out with a routine client assignment that involved booking travel for a large group of people. Much of PR work is creative and exciting, but this task required a lot of organization and detail-oriented work. “Not a part of what I would be doing on a day-to-day basis, but I stepped in to help,” laughs Keri. Yeah, she laughs – that’s what they do on the M Booth corporate team; they pitch in, and they have fun. “Along the way, Lauren kept affirming my work, sending me emails like ‘you’re a ROCK STAR – keep up the great work!’ I wanted to prove her right – show her that I am a rock star, and that her style works for me.”

Lauren didn’t just shower with praise; she let other senior team members, including EVP Mark, know how well Keri did. This is pretty special; Keri is a new member of the team, at the entry level, so kudos shared at the senior level are much appreciated. Keri sums up; “Lauren’s one of the first people to have your back and let others know how well you contribute to the team.”

Just like addressing problems (last week’s post), offering more praise is critical. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that feedback is the silver bullet, and that’s why there are so many links from this page.

We’ve spent 18 weeks looking at the Work of Leaders model, and how it’s exemplified in the award-winning corporate team at M Booth. But let’s keep it simple and reiterate the lessons of just these last two posts —

Leaders help others execute by providing frequent specific feedback. However much feedback you’re giving now, increase it, and see what happens.

Next week, we switch gears. Thanks for following along on this 18-week journey.

Offering more praise is a leadership behavior that helps drive Feedback during the Execution process of the Work of Leaders.

To learn more about an assessment that measures and guides growth for leaders and potential leaders, start here.

To learn more by reading a great book, see the link below. Purchases made through that link may result in a small commission for me.

This is the eighteenth and final post in an 18-part series. Throughout the series, I’ve provided real-world negative examples from a variety of settings.

For positive examples, we’ve looked at one specific case study: the Small Business Saturday initiative from American Express. Small Business Saturday has become part of the holiday shopping lexicon (positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) and reminds us to “Shop Small” and keep our dollars local. It’s been tremendously successful and is a huge initiative, but there’s a behind-the-scenes story that lifts up best practices in leadership we can all adopt; not every leader or team member involved is a high-level executive at American Express. In fact, much of the effort was a product of the work of a specific team at M Booth, a mid-sized award winning PR firm.

To start at the first post in this series, click here.

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