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Recognition Strategy: The Simplicity of Praise

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

Praise or compliments show appreciation, which is a basic human need. When we receive praise, we feel seen and we feel valued. This rings true across relationships both in the workplace and in our personal lives. Unfortunately, for many, the pace and expectations within our relationships/workplaces have impaired our ability to provide praise on a consistent basis. We are often consumed by the day-to-day and become problem-oriented and deficit based. Understanding the impact and benefits of praise can encourage us to make it a priority and prompt us to create time for recognising others and the positive impact they have on us/our teams and the organisation.

It's easy to find the dirt in someone, be the one the finds the gold.

Praise leads to reward circuits being activated in the brain and not just within the receiver, also within the brain of the individual providing the praise. When these circuits are activated, dopamine is released, which is the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and making us feel good, which encourages us to repeat the behaviours. Over time, when we get into the habit of giving praise, it helps us notice and appreciate the good and behaviours we like in those around us.

Research has also shown that not only do employees who receive recognition through praise feel more engaged, they are more confident, feel better informed, offer more discretionary effort, and are less likely to quit.

Knowing how to compliment and recognise others is a fundamental leadership skill, but why should we make it a priority?

5 Reasons to Make Praise a Priority

  1. People who receive praise put in more discretionary effort and develop a sense of organisational citizenship.

  2. People who receive praise cooperate and collaborate more often.

  3. Praise develops a sense of agency and enables individuals to find alternative solutions to challenges.

  4. Employees are 40% more engaged when they are recognised for their efforts by their manager compared to those who are not.

  5. Giving praise creates a neural feedback loop that increases our optimism and elevates our wellbeing.

According to researcher, TEDX Speaker and founder of Beyond Thank You, Christopher Littlefield, the most memorable and impactful messages of praise are authentic and specific, they focus on the process they went through to produce it and the impact of the behaviour is shared.

Beyond making praise a priority and getting intentional about it, Littlefield suggests these reflections:

  • Authentic: Why am I recognising this person?

  • Specific: What did I experience or observe?

  • Process: What did it take for them to do what they did?

  • Impact: How did their actions impact me or the team?

Take Action Now

Once you've finished reading this article, I challenge you to think of someone at work or in your personal life that you appreciate. Follow the reflections recommended above and reach out to that person. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Kirsten is a Performance & Leadership Consultant and Provisional Psychologist who works with individuals, teams and organisations to help them develop their potential and perform at their best. Get in touch with her today if you're looking for some support, accountability and motivation to become a happier, healthier version of you!

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