4 Things to Remember When You Praise and Recognize Employees

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On a daily basis, I track several dozen news and online sources for employee recognition, engagement, motivation and the like.

I’ve read more dry and boring reports and stories than I care to admit. But this Entrepreneur article made me laugh out loud. This intro alone tells you the tone of the article as well as giving good insight into “The Power of Praise in Business”:

“Sure, psychologists and managerial experts agree that you should you praise your employees. But how, exactly, are you supposed to do it?

“Here’s what the psychologists think about praise: ‘Positive reinforcement works better than punishment.’

“Here’s what the management experts think: ‘Employee recognition leads to profit.’

“Here’s what the neurologists think: ‘Dopamine, which is released in the brain any time we hear something we like, is a powerful chemical.’

“Here’s what the psychologists, management experts and neurologists think when someone in a position of power tells them they’re doing a great job: ‘Hell, yeah!’ (That, of course, is the dopamine talking.)”

4 keys to praise and recognition

The article goes on to cite experts from each of those fields on the power of recognition, but the bottom line is clear: Employees need to know their work is noticed and appreciated. Giving that recognition leads to direct business benefits.

So, how do you recognize appropriately? The Why Lead Now blog offered advice similar to my own counsel (summarized below):

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“When it comes to praising and recognition, you need to remember the following rules:

  1. Don’t under-praise
  2. Don’t over-praise
  3. Recognize the masses
  4. It’s not just for your direct reports

“It’s easy to forget to praise individuals because we think ‘It’s their job to do what we need them to do.’ We need to remember the recognizing the effort of individuals is a key ingredient to better quality and better work environments.”

Does your organization appropriately recognize employees? Do you?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.