Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Are You Effective In Giving Praise To Your Employees?

When it comes to what we communicate to our employees, few messages have as much impact as offering words of praise to those we lead. The importance of praise to an organization’s success has been shown in numerous studies performed by management experts, psychologists, and neurologists. One study even demonstrated how just saying ‘thank you’ to your employees can lead to an increase in productivity and employee engagement.

Of course, even without the empirical evidence proffered by these various studies, most of us understand the value of praise and its potent ability to serve as a positive motivator/driver for action. So if we’ve read the studies and/or are familiar from our own personal experiences and education about the importance of praise, why then aren’t leaders communicating it more to those under their stewardship?

In most cases, the easy culprit to pin the blame on is the increasing number of distractions now on our collective radars, or the stresses brought on by trying to navigate a global economy that’s in perpetual flux. But is this lack of praise really do to external factors, or is it perhaps more a reflection of how we communicate praise to those we lead or work side by side with?

Is it not possible that in most cases, what we’re seeing is not a lack of praise being offered but a lack of effectiveness in relaying that message in a manner that is meaningful to the person we’re giving it to?

If so, how do we make sure we’re effective in giving praise to our employees so that they do understand how much we value and appreciate their contributions to our shared purpose?

In the article “The Power of Praise in Business — and How to Do it Right”, a number of suggestions are offered on how to improve the way you give praise to your employees. While there are many good points, perhaps the most important is approaching the conversation with sincerity – with the focus or aim being simply to let your employee know how much you value their contributions.

As the author points out in this article –

What praise ultimately does is hold up a mirror. It acknowledges what people already think about themselves: that they’re good at what they do. You’re making someone happy and fulfilled and more excited to work with you. And for almost no effort at all.”

If you ask me, that’s probably one of the most important gifts leaders can give to those they lead. So check out this article for more insights and advice on how you can become more effective in giving praise to your employees.

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  1. On March 9th, 2012 at 8:22 PM Manage Better Now said:

    I think that this is one of the areas that new mangers struggle with the most. This should be part of the cirriculum in Business Schools. Good post.

  2. On March 9th, 2012 at 8:55 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    It is a challenge to learn, mostly because it's a soft skill and as many of us know, soft skills are not something business schools feel comfortable as part of the curriculum.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

  3. On March 10th, 2012 at 6:50 AM @PeterBorner said:

    Tanveer, A number of good points, thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how managers struggle giving praise where praise is due. I find this especially true in the UK. Perhaps it is our reserved culture?

  4. On March 10th, 2012 at 1:29 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    It's possible. I think another aspect is our assumption that the pursuit of autonomy means we shouldn't look for praise from others.

    Consider, for example, our experiences in the education system. As students in elementary school, we thrived off of the praise our teachers gave us; having our teachers take the time to tell us how well we did on an assignment made those high marks that much more satisfying.

    And yet, as we progress through the system, we stop seeking that praise, perhaps because we're told to 'be our own person' and that this is the way to self-sufficiency.

    Granted, it's important that we do have a sense of our own abilities and contributions that doesn't require outside input. However, I think we're doing ourselves a disservice in thinking that witholding praise is the way to go about it.

  5. On March 11th, 2012 at 12:23 PM @Carl_Eidson said:

    Tanveer, well written and on target! I learned from a professor many years ago, that positive praise is most powerful when you also state the specific behavior or action you are praising. For example "Kathy, thanks for writing a great proposal. I like the way you included client quotes and success stories. They make our message stronger in the eyes of the customer." ~Carl Eidson

  6. On March 12th, 2012 at 11:22 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Carl; glad you enjoyed it. I agree that when giving praise to your employees, it's important that you be specific about what it is they did that you appreciate. Not only will help to inform your employees of what matters to you, but your specificity will show them that you're paying attention to their efforts.

    Thanks again, Carl for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

  7. On March 12th, 2012 at 7:00 AM Alex said:

    Good article… I would like to add a tip – be specific in praise. Tell the person exactly what it was that you liked. Also, I would caution not to praise someone when you don't mean it. But most of all, I think the important observation is that many people feel their task is thankless and unappreciated and praise goes a long way, with the right person, to make them want to excel.

  8. On March 12th, 2012 at 11:25 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Alex. As I said to Carl, above, being specific in your praise is certainly a key factor to being effective in giving praise to those you lead.

  9. On March 12th, 2012 at 5:46 PM Becca said:

    Giving praise to employees help them to be more productive and do more to what you expected. This is a good reminder to employers to be appreciative to their employees .

  10. On March 15th, 2012 at 12:00 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Becca; glad you enjoyed it.

  11. On March 13th, 2012 at 11:52 AM Jim Matorin said:

    One balancing act I call a sandwich: something good, constructive criticism, something good. Feedback is an art.

  12. On March 15th, 2012 at 12:02 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    I agree with you, Jim, that giving feedback effectively takes some finesse. And yet, although it might be an art, it's a lot like finger painting in that everyone should be able to do it with a focus on the end effect to determine how well you did and where you might need to do some more practicing.

  13. On March 13th, 2012 at 3:45 PM dolly said:

    A word of praise for your employee is worth thousands of dollars, if seen in true perspective. But unfortunately many of our managers are misers in this aspect. Those who have done it successfully, have reaped the harvest in the shape of reduced turn over and an enhanced production volume.

  14. On March 15th, 2012 at 12:05 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Dolly,

    I'm not sure most managers are "misers" in handing out praise as perhaps what they see as being gestures of appreciation are falling flat with the recipients. This is why it's important that we not restrict ourselves to assuming that what we view as offering praise is the same for others, but instead inform ourselves of what those we serve need to hear from us in order to understand how much we appreciate their efforts.

  15. On March 15th, 2012 at 10:36 PM Greg Blencoe said:


    Thanks for the post and sharing the article. I'm also a very big advocate of praising employees. This is such an important issue.

    Since as you mentioned the way appreciation is given may not always resonate with the employees, I wonder if it would be a good idea for managers to ask employees when they are hired how they like to be praised. I'm guessing the answers would vary a lot depending on the person and their specific personality. This would allow the manager to know how to praise each employee in a way that would be most effective.

    Also, while I think praising specific actions is wonderful, I also think praising employees in a general way can be good, too. For example, if an employee worked somewhere for three months and was doing really well, I think it would still be very effective if the manager said:

    "Hey John, you've been here for three months and I wanted to let you know that you are doing really well in your job. I really appreciate it."

    While this is very general and covers all of the tasks the employee does, I still think the employee would be very pleased to hear this.

  16. On March 16th, 2012 at 10:35 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Greg,

    Your point about asking for input from your employees about some of the ways they might feel appreciated at work is extremely important. We all have different things that we 'measure' to gauge how successful or effective we're being.

    For some of us, earning a bonus or incentive is a great way to feel appreciated for our work. For others, it's having your boss taking the time to write a handwritten note expressing their gratitude for our efforts.

    The point is, both are valid ways to express praise to our employees; however, what matters more is which one your employees will recognize as praise and not simply some gimmick that's meant to keep everyone in line.

    Thanks for bringing up this excellent point in the discussion, Greg.

  17. On March 29th, 2012 at 6:39 PM Paul Jackson said:

    Praising is a way of uplifting one's employee in terms to their work and towards to their boss and co-employees. It's one way of thinking positive on whatever circumstances they may encounter.

  18. On March 29th, 2012 at 10:44 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Definitely and it's been shown time and again to be a powerful motivator and effective means to engage those you lead towards a shared goal.

  19. On April 11th, 2012 at 9:24 PM Paul Jackson said:

    Indeed a motivator! My boss never fails to appreciate hard working people, his words of appreciation just fuels everyone to work even harder! Your post serves as a reminder to everyone with subordinates,appreciating simply means valuing your employees.

  20. On April 12th, 2012 at 2:04 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Exactly. One only has to consider what would happen if a number of your employees were to jump ship to work elsewhere to appreciate just how vital your employees are to your shared success.

    Thanks Paul for sharing sharing your thoughts on this.

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