Praise: the Great Motivator

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March 26, 2015 by Rick B

During a recent visit to my daughter’s house I watched her compliment her three-year-old son. I don’t remember the exact reason or wording, but what I do remember—what stood out—is the way she delivered the praise. It’s so easy for any of us, much less a parent of two toddlers, to simply say “nice job” and leave it at that. But my daughter took a few extra seconds to make her praise very specific, leaving no doubt as to what she was praising. She also made an extra personal connection by adding how proud she was of him. I remember watching their interaction and thinking wow, great job! What a wonderful reminder this was for me on how to effectively give praise.

There is no question that offering praise is a great motivator. From a scientific standpoint positive recognition releases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in our brains and makes us happy and feel good about ourselves. Along with creating feelings of pride and satisfaction, dopamine can also contribute to innovative thinking and creative problem solving. A Gallup research project which surveyed over four million individuals, determined that employees who receive regular praise are more productive, engaged and more likely to stay with the company. The research also indicated that those who receive praise regularly have better customer scores and enjoy better health.

In a previous blog “Positivity Matters: What’s’ your Ratio?” from September 2014, I wrote about the positive to negative ratio and the desired 3:1 (or greater) ratio for a positive workplace. Praise can be an excellent vehicle for providing positive interactions. Whether you are looking to motivate, encourage a behavior, reward, or simply brighten someone’s day, praise can be invaluable.

But beware, if done incorrectly or insincerely you run the risk of doing more harm than good. Oftentimes employee-of-the-month programs fail because if you dole out praise equally by letting everyone have an opportunity to “win” employees can see this as “canned” and insincere, or if the same employees win month after month, others may end up resentful.

When greatness is seen, praise it immediately! The more time that passes between the great accomplishment and the recognition, the less impact the praise will have. Also, positive recognition, like a good meal, is very enjoyable but its effects only last a short while. Make sure you look for opportunities whenever you can in both your work and personal life to offer genuine praise. Remember to be specific as to what you are praising and make sure it is praise worthy.

I’ll end with this quote from Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Rick Brammer is president and co-owner of United Credit Service.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902.

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