Employee Praise: It’s Easy to Give, But Harder to Do Right

Occasionally I’ll see a theme running through the emails and feeds I receive. This past week, there was no missing the theme on how to praise others.

Giving praise seems like such a simple thing, yet so often it’s done poorly, if at all. These tips, from experts I respect, give good guidance.

Click through on the links for more details directly from the source.

5 ways NOT to praise people

From Alexander Kjerulf’s Chief Happiness Officer blog:

  1. Obligatory praise;
  2. Sarcastic praise;
  3. Praise mixed with criticism;
  4. Praising some – ignoring others;
  5. Trivial praise.

Praise: The most potent reward

From Wally Bock’s Three-Star Leadership blog:

  1. Praise the praiseworthy;
  2. Praise a lot;
  3. Praise promptly;
  4. Praise comfortably.

Powerful Praise: Words to Use

From Karen Hurt’s Let’s Grow Leaders blog:

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  • I trust you.
  • Great idea!  Let’s go with it.
  • You have made a significant contribution to ___.
  • You really helped me out
  • You’re a difference maker
  • You are a gem
  • This is one of the best__I’ve seen
  • We could learn a lot from __ about this
  • We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for ___
  • ___ has set a new standard of excellence for us all to strive toward
  • Glad to have you as part of OUR team
  • You are doing exactly what you were meant to do in this life

Some more praise starters

This last list I consider to be more of a praise-starter, if you will. Continue the thought started with these phrases to make the praise and recognition more meaningful. For example:

  • I trust you because you do XYZ consistently.
  • You really helped me out when you did ABC and that was important because…
  • You’re a real difference maker. By taking the initiative to do…

Taking a bit of extra time and giving just a little more effort can make your praise far more powerful, personal and impactful to the person you are praising. It’s worth it.

What kind of praise do you prefer to receive? How do you typically give praise? What are your praise tips – both what not to do and how to praise better?

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.