How to harness the power of encouragement

Imagine the scene…..

You have spent some time on a particular task or project. You are feeling particularly pleased with what you have done. Even if you do say so yourself, you’ve done a great job. You are feeling good, right?

But, what if no one else notices? What if your manager never notices? You might be left feeling flat. Or, wondering whether what you did was good enough? No matter how many times you tell yourself that you KNOW you did a good job, a complete lack of external validation brings even the most positive and self confident of us down.

No matter what level you are at in your organisation. Whether you are the business owner, the CEO, or a first time supervisor. We all need someone to tell us that we are on the right track, doing well, getting it right.

So why do so many leaders find expressing gratitude, encouragement and praise so difficult to get right?

We have all been subjected to the “you’ve all done very well’ comment as the boss leaves the office on a Friday afternoon. Or, had a generic thank you, but you are not sure what for.

Don’t be like those people. Be nice – give others what you would hope to receive yourself. Don’t buy into that ‘it’s not our culture’ nonsense. Make it the culture in your team to make people feel great about what they are doing.

Here are a few simple suggestions for improving every day feedback to your team colleagues.

1. Be specific.
Vague praise doesn’t work and won’t make an impression. General thank you’s will not get through the chatter of insecurity that most people have going on in their heads. Say what specifically you have noticed someone do well and when. This not only shows that you care but also that you are paying attention to what happens around you.

2. Praise sincerely and realistically.
You have to mean it! And, it has to be based on reality. Detail is important, so if you have been specific you should have this one sorted. The most important thing to remember is that the person receiving praise or thanks needs to believe you.

3. Avoid offering praise and asking for a favour at the same time.
This can feel so fake and if you do it too often people won’t want your feedback as they will know it is conditional.

4. Look for something less obvious to praise
Avoid praising the same thing over and over. It loses its power. If you can, find something that your colleague hasn’t heard praised many times before.

5. Don’t hesitate to praise people who get a lot of praise already.
Everyone loves praise. Those that tell you otherwise are probably not being honest with themselves. If someone has done a good job with something then let them know. It doesn’t matter that you praised them only the day before for something else.

6. Praise people behind their backs.
This is one time when the ‘grape-vine’ is extremely useful. The person will almost always hear about your comments. Hearing from a third party that your manager thinks you did a great job is almost better than hearing it face to face.

7. Be very careful if a person asks for your honest opinion.
This can indicate that they are feeling insecure and need some reassurance. Now is the time to praise their bravery in asking for feedback. Now is the time to spend a little more time looking at the issue in question. Find and point out the good, express your gratitude, and ask them to express what they are concered about.
Then maybe set aside another time to carefully discuss anything that needs a little more attention. You can turn this into a wonderful coaching opportunity.

8. Gratitude is powerful.
Expressing your gratitude is a sure fire mechanism for getting more of the same. Show your appreciation for your colleague’s hard work and contribution. Expressing gratitude doesn’t mean you have to be happy about everything. Just that you appreciate others and the efforts they go to.

I bet we are all agreed that getting sincere and meaningful praise and thanks feels awesome.

Giving praise and thanks will make you feel great too. It’s pretty difficult to feel down about making someone else’s day a better one. You will get an instant happiness boost – and who doesn’t like one of those?

If you have found this useful and you like my posts please share with others who might. Collectively we can make work places better through being more ‘human’ leaders. Thanks Mandy xx

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