BLUF: When I enthusiastically praise my directs for a job particularly well done, employee morale goes way up and production drops like a rock.

Is there a podcast on how to praise directs?

This first happened a couple of years ago. Our company started to be recognized as a leader in the industry. Our products were increasingly well-received, and we were exceeding our sales goals. I was grateful for the outstanding work produced by my directs, and went on a bit of a campaign to praise them up one side and down the other whenever we were in the presence of executives. I wanted to make sure they got the credit where credit was due, and wanted them to know I recognized and appreciated their hard work.

I've never seen such a dramatic drop in production. Suddenly their work area sounded like happy hour down at the corner tavern. Their morale was obviously very good, but they lost their edge. It took time and a lot of feedback to get them  focused again and back up to the level they were before the praise.

I swore I'd be very careful not to overdo the praise in the future, and tried to make sure there was always some pressure to perform. Then yesterday we had an employee -appreciation lunch where the company president acknowledged a recent trade magazine's Readers Choice award that gave us top recognition. I found myself praising the team up one side and down the other. Now they're back to happy hour mode.

Are there any podcasts on how to give praise without taking off too much pressure to perform? I want to give them credit when deserved, but I've experienced pain doing so.

Kevin1's picture

Is it possible that you can stick to feedback and use praise very sparingly?

katehorstman's picture
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Have you listened to our podcasts on Feedback versus Praise? I would suggest the podcast Yes, Please Praise, Thank You. I have added links to that and the feedback cast below. 

Praise, while great for morale, isn't effective because it's not specific and therefore it’s unactionable. We do recommend praise, it’s a valuable tool to reduce the gap between us and our directs. However, we cannot substitute praise for feedback. In order to create better performance, we must use feedback to be clear about what behaviors we want in the future. Praise and feedback are tools we use two different ways.


I hope this helps!


mrreliable's picture

Thanks Kate! I will listen.

katehorstman's picture
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I hope things get easier!