Well… Actually, it wouldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, having your job recognized is what everyone wants, and so do I; but there is a difference between having your efforts recognized and having a boss who says “Good job!” all the time. When your boss recognizes your effort, and acknowledges it, it has a much greater effect both on your performance, your engagement, and your job satisfaction. When a boss gives out praise without any actual connection with performance, it leaves the employee confused, not knowing which aspects of the work they did is actually valued; and even when they actually impress their bosses, it will be hard to tell, as they always hear “good job”.
In order to use praise effectively, managers and supervisors need to think about two things:
- It must be contingent and specific to performance—general and vague praise does not point the employee in any specific direction. Without specificity and contingency you leave it to the employee to guess what the good job is, and the guess may be wrong.
- It must be individualized—some people like to be recognized publicly, others prefer to have that acknowledgement in a private meeting—you’ll have to tailor it to the employee you want to recognize.
Recognition is one of the most powerful forms of positive reinforcement in the work place. It is readily available and it does not cost anything other than the attention to a work well done. Recognition makes the employee feel valued. Its effects are greater when recognition is a daily business, instead of something that happens monthly, such as employee of the month programs.
Supervisors also crave recognition and direction. It is part of their job to create a supportive and productive environment in their departments, but it is important that their bosses also recognize their efforts and give them behavior specific praise, so that they know in which direction to continue leading. Praising results, e.g. increased sales, more clients, less expenses, leave the supervisor to achieve the results in whichever way he chooses.
Behavior specific praise may be your most important weapon to employee engagement and performance improvement. What do you think? Can you remember a time your boss praised you for a job well done? How did that make you feel? How did you feel when your job wasn’t recognized? Comment below and let me know of your experience.