The motivating power of praise

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Many companies today have returned to the concept of ‘Pay for Performance’, says Richard Gerson of Gerson Goodson. This approach requires the employee or performer to be somewhat at risk with the company, as compensation is based on outcomes. Many salespeople work this way, and it is very effective for them.

But other employees have difficulty achieving their performance goals. This results in lower financial compensation, decreased morale and poorer productivity.

The reason Pay for Performance has once again regained popularity is that managers think employees are primarily motivated by money. Many recent surveys show them rating money as the main motivator for their employees. But when the employees are questioned, money is at the middle or end of the list. They want recognition and appreciation for a job well done, and to know their work has meaning and impact.

So what motivates employees more than money? If the answer is not pay for performance, what is the real answer to increasing employee motivation and improving performance?

The real answer is PRAISE for Performance.

PRAISE is an acronym for six behaviors that managers can engage in that will motivate employees to perform at higher levels. The components are:
• Praise
• Recognition
• Appreciation
• Inspiration
• Stroking
• Encouragement.

Here is how to use them effectively to help elevate employee motivation and performance.

Praise
In its simplest definition, praise involves saying positive things to people for what they’ve accomplished. The more lavish you are in your praise of someone, the more you will help them raise their self-respect and self-esteem. Praise is a positive reinforcer, and we all know that what gets positively reinforced gets repeated. So, if you want employees to do the right things well repeatedly, praise them for their efforts and accomplishments.

Recognition
People love to be recognized for their accomplishments. Recognition comes in many forms, including verbal and written praise, awards and rewards, plaques, pins, tee shirts, public acknowledgement in front of coworkers, and a simple thank you.

In fact, when I ask groups if they hear the words thank you enough from their bosses, they all say NO. Yet, these same people think they say thank you enough to their employees. Somewhere, there is a disconnect. If you want to start a very inexpensive and highly effective recognition program at your company, just make sure everyone starts to say thank you to everyone else. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Appreciation
It has been a known fact in psychology for over 100 years that the thing we want most in life is to be appreciated by others, especially significant others. Employees want to be appreciated by their managers and their coworkers. Simple statements such as, “I appreciate what you’re doing”, or “Your work is very much appreciated here,” will create high levels of morale, increased intrinsic motivation to perform, and higher levels of performance.

People who are appreciated know that their work has meaning and that they are making a difference. Every person wants to feel important and be made to feel important. Showing appreciation to someone does all this and more.

Inspiration
Inspiration is the foundation of motivation and commitment. A major key to high level performance is that the performer must be inspired to achieve. Creating an atmosphere of inclusion, empowerment, and consistent rewards for performance outcomes does this. Having the manager act as a role model for employees also does it. When managers walk the talk, they inspire others to do the same.

Stroking
Everyone needs positive stroking. Strokes are what people give us for what we’ve done. They can be verbal, written or graphic. Several of the simplest, unique and more effective stroking techniques include happy or smiley faces, JWD (Job Well Done) stickers, and “I like ……… because ….” statements.

These three actions, in addition to verbal strokes, will surprise you in how much they can increase performance. Additionally, you may have some employees who need to be touched or physically stroked before they know you are praising them. Do this appropriately in addition to these other stroking suggestions and you’ll get the high levels of performance you desire.

Encouragement
People want to believe in themselves and they want others to believe in them. Encouragement is a powerful leadership characteristic, especially when it comes from the heart. Let people know you expect the best from them and for them. Provide them with verbal, written and physical feedback that will help them improve their performances to the next level. Encourage them to do better; to be better; and to become better. They will exceed your expectations.

The results you’ll achieve using this PRAISE for Performance approach will definitely exceed the results from any pay for performance initiative. People want to be valued where they work and play and for what they do. PRAISE provides that value for them.

• It lets them know you care about them
• it helps you tap into their hearts and minds
• it helps them tap into their inner drives and desires to be their best.

Start now
If you have not yet implemented a P.R.A.I.S.E. for performance approach, start one immediately. Establish your current performance baselines and see how much performance increases. If you’ve done pay for performance, compare the old with the new. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well a simple behavior like praising someone can lead to powerful results and performance improvements.

Richard Gerson, Ph.D., CMC, is president of Gerson Goodson Performance Management, a consulting and training firm specializing in the psychobehavioral aspects of individual and organizational performance improvement.

Richard Gerson

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By admin
06th Jun 2001 19:14

I read this with great enthusiasm as this is what I truly believe, in motivating others to do their best. It works! It is important that upper management adopts this for middle management, who are often left out of the P.R.A.I.S.E. It's too bad as many middle managers do a wonderful job, and become less effective at praising others,simply because it's lacking in coming down from the top to themselves.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
06th Jun 2001 19:14

I read this with great enthusiasm as this is what I truly believe, in motivating others to do their best. It works! It is important that upper management adopts this for middle management, who are often left out of the P.R.A.I.S.E. It's too bad as many middle managers do a wonderful job, and become less effective at praising others,simply because it's lacking in coming down from the top to themselves.

Thanks (0)