The Use of Praise in a Performance Management
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
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.