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It's easy for employees to feel unappreciated if they spend week after week toiling away with no words of encouragement from colleagues. As a manager, business owner or even co-worker, you can help pick up an employee's spirits by verbally recognizing his efforts. You don’t have to do something major to boost an employee's morale. Instead, provide encouragement with a thoughtful and well-timed compliment. Whether you are a manager or peer, your support can go a long way toward improving an employee's attitude.
Praise loses its impact if you wait too long to give it, so make sure you recognize the employee while her accomplishment is still fresh. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter, or even the end of the week, to verbally recognize an employee who has done something well. Praise her right away for maximum impact.
Choose Public or Private Praise
In some cases, public praise is the best option because you are recognizing the employee in front of his peers. Most employees enjoy being singled out for their accomplishments in front of others, as long as you don't go way over the top and potentially embarrass the employee and alienate his colleagues. If the employee has done something truly exemplary, recognize him it at a large gathering. If your praise is of the everyday variety, approach him when he is gathered with colleagues and make your statement loud enough so everyone in the proximity can hear it. Just keep in mind that there are also instances when public praise isn’t the best choice. If you are dealing with an employee who doesn't enjoy the spotlight, giving praise publicly could make him uncomfortable. When dealing with employees of this type, keep it simple and private to ensure that your attempt at verbal recognition doesn’t backfire and leave the employee feeling ill at ease.
When you praise an employee, you not only make her feel good about herself, you also increase the likelihood that she repeats positive behaviors. If your employee has done something that you would like her to repeat, be specific about what she did well. A simple, “Nice work today,” might bring a temporary smile to her face. But it doesn’t teach her anything about your expectations. Instead, say, “I really appreciate how much time you spent with that client today. You did a really good job of resolving his delivery problems and kept him on board for future business. Your attention to his needs was clear.”
Keep it Completely Positive
When verbally recognizing an employee, don’t praise her and then tell her about her weaknesses in the same breath. If you do, she will likely forget the compliment and focus squarely on the criticism. Mention only the positives when verbally recognizing the employee. Save any critiques you might have for another time.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.