Rise Performance Group

Manners and the Power of Praise

By Aoife Gorey

Growing up, it was common courtesy in my house that if Mom cooked dinner, I said thank you. If Dad drove me at 7am on a Saturday to dance class, I yawningly mumbled “Thanks Dad”. If I ever forgot, I would be quickly corrected. Manners were instilled in me at a young age, so needless to say it has become second nature to me. I like to always thank co-workers for their help on a project, or tell my boss when my team of interns has done an exceptional job. Once an intern myself, I know first-hand how powerful recognition and praise can be. Giving positive feedback and praise simply makes people feel good!

When someone receives praise, their brain physically ignites a “feel-good” high, which in turn reinforces the behavior. Neglecting manners in the workplace can have the opposite effect of this and can be damaging to a team.

Imagine you spent weeks working on a specific project for your boss and once completed he doesn’t even mutter a thank you… How would you feel? Something as basic as manners and recognition can be extremely powerful in business.

When it comes to motivating employees, there is the common misconception that money is the only driving factor, but studies have shown that motivation comes from more than dollar signs and fat paychecks. In fact, employee recognition is essential to keeping employees happy, engaged and motivated.

A new study on employee recognition has produced some astounding results. The study found that organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far out perform those that don’t. You probably have an employee recognition program in your organization, after all, there is a $46 billion market for it, but is it effective? Bersin & Associates reported that 87 percent of these recognition programs are based on tenure, not performance. Most companies reward people for just hanging around, and these programs have virtually no impact on organizational performance.

On the other hand, companies that scored in the top 20 percent for building a “recognition-rich culture” had 21 percent lower voluntary turnover rates! A modern recognition program can have a tremendous impact on employees and overall business performance. So what does a modern recognition program look like? Josh Bersin, President and CEO of Bersin & Associates, recently published an article on Forbes outlining the best practices for employee recognition.

  • Recognition based on specific results and behaviors – Decide what criteria for what performance constitutes a reward, not just “Employee of the Month.” Give an award to an employee when he or she delivers outstanding customer service or goes out of their way to finish a project.
  • Peer to peer recognition– Not all recognition has to come from managers. Modern programs are “social”, meaning they let anyone in the company recognize anyone. “Thank you’s” are publicly and prominently displayed so everyone can see them. Companies like Achievers and Globoforce make social recognition easy. Some programs give employees budgets for ‘dollars’ or ‘points’ to award other employees. They can do it online in seconds and make the recognition visible to everyone! The trick is to make it simple and easy.
  • Share stories of success – When an employee does something noteworthy, tell people about it! Share their story in your company blog, newsletter or social networks so other employees have the opportunity to hear about it and learn from the story.
  • Incorporate your company’s values and goals in recognition – When establishing the criteria that constitutes recognition; make sure you focus on your company’s values. Bersin & Associates suggests when you give someone a “thank you” award, it should be tied to your company’s strategy (customer service, innovation, teamwork or revenue based.)

Here are some of our tips to keep in mind when praising and motivating your team.

  1. Be genuine. Effective recognition isn’t just sweet talk and a fake smile; it should be inspiring. As a manager, you need to show that you truly appreciate their contributions and achievements. Don’t give recognition or praise unless it is due.
  2. Be specific. Show results of how they specifically helped the organization. Letting the individual know how they succeeded will reinforce that behavior in future projects and sales.
  3. Know the right time and place. It’s important to know whether a task deserves a formal public recognition, a casual announcement, an applause during a team meeting, or a more informal praise.
  4. Remember to smile. A happy manager-employee relationship is crucial for effective motivation, engagement and sales performance.

Remember, lead by example. How can you expect your team members and colleagues to be mannerly if you forget the basics of manners and recognition! Say please and thank you and give praise where praise is due. Creating an environment that makes employees happy on a day-to-day basis as well as long-term will strengthen workplace relationships and productivity.

Are bad manners a pet peeve of yours too? How do you let your colleagues and team members know that you appreciate them?

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