Complimenting employees is an effective way to motivate good performance and improve workplace morale. In contrast, failing to recognize employees’ contributions makes them feel undervalued and unappreciated. However, make sure to be sincere with your compliments, or the praise will come across as flattery or manipulation.
Some managers neglect to compliment employees because they think there might be negative consequences. For example, common management myths include that complimenting employees will go to their heads, make them complacent, or make them feel as if they deserve a raise, according to the book "Building More Effective Organizations: HR Management and Performance in Practice," by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper. However, these worries are unfounded. If your compliments are relevant and sincere, the praise will improve performance and employee morale.
The first step to complimenting an employee is to be specific. For example, praise an employee’s contribution to a particular project. Specific compliments help you promote the exact behaviors you want that employee and others to repeat. General feedback, in contrast, might not provide helpful guidance, even if it does make employees feel good.
The best time to compliment an employee is immediately after the commendable performance, according to the “The Manager's Question and Answer Book,” by Florence M. Stone. There are two reasons for this. First, an immediate compliment lets your employees know that you are monitoring their performance and know when they are on the right track. Second, an immediate compliment has a greater impact than a delayed one because the employees’ work is still fresh in their minds.
Public praise can do wonders for employee morale. For example, take time during a group meeting to praise an employee’s work and perhaps also award a prize. A public compliment not only makes that employee feel good, it also lets other employees know what behaviors they should emulate.
Another way to compliment employees is to pass on someone else's praise. For example, if a customer tells you your company has done well with a recent order, relay the compliment to the employees who worked on that project.