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Performance Management


The Use of Praise in a Performance Management System

It is a simple fact of life. Most humans will lend an ear to praise. No matter who is the person in question, he or she will always be able to spare some time for compliments, congratulations and even downright flattery. In terms of performance management, praise can be an extremely powerful tool to motivate the workforce and increase productivity. Yet it should be realized that delivering meaningful praise is not as simple as it sounds. Indeed, there are ways to go about it that are more potent than others. In addition, the timing and optimized constructiveness of praise are very important points of finesse which should be hammered down before a supervisor goes into the field.

An effective supervisor will not forget to acknowledge star employees, and let them know just how much they appreciate the stellar performance being delivered. A supervisor’s job is complex, and in the midst of numerous projects it may be easy to let an employee’s outstanding performance slip by unnoticed. This, however, is a dangerous mistake. It is absolutely crucial that supervisors acknowledge employees when they succeed, if a performance management plan is to have any impact on a business. Just because an employee is forging ahead in his or her field does not mean that a supervisor should simply pile more work on the already burdened shoulders.

But praise should be administered intelligently, if it is to come across right. All too often employers are seen bungling their displays of approval by not correlating the specific accomplishments with the reasons for the praise when administering a compliment. Most importantly, however, the praise should be sincere. A supervisor should never praise an underperforming employee simply to jumpstart results. This will ultimately backfire on the management by setting a lower standard of performance and a lessened degree of credibility in general.

The administration of praise should be adjusted based on the position of the employee or employees in question. Those at the entry level, for instance, will advance more rapidly when praise is given somewhat liberally. Here we see the notion of approximation. For those beginning a new job, praise can be given even if the employee doesn’t hit the mark perfectly on target. At this stage, nurturing the worker is more important than seeing results achieved with deafening precision. The bar is raised, however, when praise is administered to employees with more experience and seniority. There, encouraging inaccurate performance when exactitude is attainable can cause irreversible slippage in terms of the overall professionalism of the workplace. It should be remembered, however, that when and experienced employee encounters a new set of responsibilities, he or she should be praised at the entry level, once again, in order to build up the skills necessary for success in the new area of work.

The content of praise that is constructive should be carefully developed. In order to demonstrate the authenticity of the praise given, a supervisor should engage the employee on an executive as well as an interpersonal level. By starting out with a description of how the company benefited from the employee’s performance, the supervisor should then segue into how the star performance made him or her feel. After allowing some time for reflection, the employee should drive home how important the employee’s performance is to the organization.