Managers Need To Learn How To Praise Their Team Members

It turns out that managers need to find a way to recognize efforts
It turns out that managers need to find a way to recognize efforts
Image Credit: Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

When someone on your team does good work, what do you do? I’m hoping that the answer is that you take time out of your day and use your manager skills to praise them. If you can figure out how to do this the right way, then your praise can get them to work harder, work smarter, encourage them to try new things, and to take risks. However, you’ll only be able to achieve this if you know how to praise them in the right way.

Different Types Of Praise

Some team members believe that intelligence, ability, and skill are inborn and relatively fixed–we “have” what we were born with. The ones who do are the ones who will say things like “I’m just not that smart” or “Math is not my thing.” These types of team members feel that they are the way that they are.

Other team members have the belief that intelligence, ability, and skill can be developed through effort–we are what we work to become. Team members with a growth mindset typically say things like “With a little more time, I’ll get it” or “That’s OK. I’ll give it another try.” These types of team members feel that we can be what we strive to be. Where managers can make mistakes is when they only offer praise for accomplishments.

Some managers have not had the right manager training and so they only praise employees for achievements. These managers tend to also only criticize team members for short-term failures. When they do that they help create an environment of fixed mindsets. And then what happens? Team members start to see mistakes not as lessons learned, not as worthy experiments, not as inevitable steps on the way to success, but simply as failures. They start to see every lack of immediate result as failure. Which means that in time they lose motivation — and stop trying. After all, if I am who I am, effort won’t make a difference. When this happens, their managers can have a real problem on their hands.

The Right Way To Praise Your Employees

All of this leads managers to ask the question: how can we build a team filled with growth-mindset employees? We can still praise achievement and still offer constructive feedback after failures. However, we must also praise effort and application. Examples of this would be: “Great job! It’s clear you put in a lot of time and effort” and “Great work! You beat a tight deadline. Thanks for working so hard to get it done.” The difference? You still praise results, but you praise results based on effort, not on innate talent or skill.

By praising effort, you create an environment where employees feel anything is possible. Success is a matter of effort and application — not innate talent. The same principle applies to how you encourage your team members. Don’t say, “I know you’ll get this. You’re really smart.” Why? Because “you’re really smart” assumes a quality the team member either has or does not have. Instead say, “I have faith in you. You never give up. I know you’ll pull this off.”

To consistently improve employee performance, build an environment with a growth mindset. Your team’s skills will improve. And so will their willingness to take risks. When failure is seen as a step on the road to eventual achievement, risks are no longer something to avoid. The occasional failure will just be a part of the process. Just as effort, application, and growth — and not natural talent — will be seen as the true foundations for success.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for a manager to be successful, their team has to be able to accomplish great things. In order for their team to be willing to accomplish great things, the manager has to provide praise for their accomplishments. Many managers understand the importance of doing this; however, they may not know the right way to provide praise. The goal is to create an environment where your team members feel that anything is possible.

It turns out that there are different types of praise. Some of your team members may feel that their intelligence and abilities are what they were born with – it will not change. Others may feel that intelligence and ability are things that can be developed through effort. Some managers make the mistake of only praising their team members for their successes and only criticize team members for short-term failures. The correct thing for managers to do is to praise effort and application. When we praise effort, we create an environment where employees feel anything is possible. Managers need to consistently improve employee performance by building an environment with a growth mindset.

The good news is that simply by praising our team members, managers can improve the performance of our team. It’s almost a way of doing a type of team building. However, in order to make this happen we need to know how to praise the right way. If we take the time to understand what kind of praise will motivate our team, then we can praise them in a way that will allow them to accomplish more. Learn what your team needs and they’ll deliver for you!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think that a manager should say if a team member fails in order to keep them motivated?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

We would all like to use our manager skills to be better managers. The big question that all of us deal with each and every day is just exactly what kind of manager training do we need to make this happen. It turns out that if we keep doing the things that we are doing right now, nothing is going to change. We will never become better. What we need to learn how to do is to change things up and do things differently. One of the most powerful tools that a manager has is the questions that we ask the members of our team. However, if we keep asking them the same questions, then we’ll just get the same answers. In order to become a better manager, we need to learn how to ask better questions.