Accepting Praise

Christine Johnson on

Praise /prāz/: The expression of approval or admiration for someone or something.

Ongoing performance feedback are buzz words associated with today’s workplace.  Gone for many companies are the one time a year performance feedback sessions where an entire year’s worth of work, metrics, and development are clumped into one massive feedback talk with 1-5 rating scores as anchors and at its core, the primary basis for pay increases.

This new approach has organizations training their leaders to communicate authentically with their teams on a regular basis.  Leaders learn to mentor and coach their employees.  For the first time, employees have a better chance at receiving feedback that could truly make a difference in their roles and careers.

And for most employees, praise is at least sprinkled through these conversations.  Leaders are learning to provide praise and kudos in real time and tying it to a specific action instead of the generic “Good Job!”  But how do employees accept praise?

When we rollout cool new technologies to support ongoing feedback and hold all company meetings to announce that the new feedback styles align better with values, mission, and success, we forget to look at how employees are internalizing this feedback, especially praise.

Long has the employee been the recipient of the feedback sandwich: positive-negative-positive where the positive nuggets are the opening and closing acts of the performance appraisal.  Since sincere praise has often been lacking for many employees throughout the careers, what makes organizations think that employees will easily digest praise and positively incorporate it into their own self pictures?

Four reasons praise may not stick

  • The recipient has not received authentic praise before and is not sure how to process it.
  • It is hard for the recipient to hear the praise because of all of the negative “noise” before, during and after the performance feedback conversation.
  • The recipient does not trust the leader. If the leader has not built authentic communication with the recipient prior to the feedback conversation, the praise could come across random and mandated.
  • Simply put, negative feedback draws more attention and is easier to gossip about.

We have spent a great deal of time and money training our leaders on how to be better conversationalists and work quality champions, but forgot to look at how employees may receive the “good news.”  Check out this post on how a short, three-step process can help.  What is one thing you do to make sure positive feedback and praise stick long after a feedback discussion?

Image by athree23 from Pixabay

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