Have you ever stopped to consider how effective your praise is?
Think back to the last time you said 'thank you' or gave someone a complement... what kind of behaviour were you trying to highlight and what kind of language where you using?
Enter 'Targeted Praise'. Targeted Praise is the specific and deliberate use of saying thank you AND encouraging desired attributes and outcomes. It's more than just saying 'thank you', it's praising the process and the behaviour you want to see more of, regardless of whether the outcome was a success or not.
- For teams for example, you might highlight a mindset, behaviour or value that you want to see replicated, and then specifically link it with positivity and recognition in order to create more awareness and inclination for further use.
- For individuals, a 2015 Harvard study showed that participants who had received specific praise prior to undertaking a complex problem solving task, were over twice as likely to solved the problem as compared with those who did not receive any praise. These praised participants also reported feeling significantly less stressed when compared with the control group.
You don't have to connect praise with salary increases or more formal recognition, in fact regular targeted praise leads to managers being seen as more supportive and empowering, all the while unlocking a more creative and engaged workplace.
Here are some workplace examples of how Targeted Praise might sound in action:
- "Well done Geoff, your ownership of the issue and your problem solving approach is a great example of how we can all live the 'accountability' value. Thank you for being a real role model."
- "Ben, thanks for making the effort to see things from my point of view, this really helped us find the middle ground"
- "Thank you Sarah, your willingness to put time and effort into exploring different options helped us to unlock a new, more efficient way of working"
- "Rebecca, I'm so proud of you for taking this strategic risk, you thought it through, gave it a shot and even though things went in a different direction than expected, we've learnt substantially from it and I'm grateful that you were courageous enough to pursue an idea, that's how we will innovate and evolve in the future".
Practise targeted praise on your kids or a friend/partner to become more more confident and natural in giving specific praise. As a leader, be visible in your targeted praise and try to encourage a workplace standard of more targeted praise giving, as this helps create a culture where people feel seen and appreciated for their contribution and experience a deeper sense of belonging.
Let me know, what commitment can you make to increase your targeted praise?
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