In my last post, I wrote about making sure to give your team recognition but if you are like me knowing how to give praise well might not be especially natural or obvious. Let’s look at how you can give meaningful recognition that will have a positive impact and strengthen team culture.
Saying “thanks” is a great habit to be in, but it doesn’t often have much impact. If you look at any given day, you will likely say “thanks” at least 100 times. Someone holds the door open for you, “thanks.” You sneeze and someone blesses you, “thanks.” Your kid finally cleans up their room, “thanks.” We are in the habit of almost reflexively saying “thank you” for nearly anything.
We see this with little kids when they sheepishly apologize to someone. “Sorry,” they say. “Sorry for what?” we guide them. By forcing our children to state clearly what they are sorry for we hope to have them add weight to the apology.
Much the same applies when offering thanks to our team. When sharing praise with your team be specific about what it is they did well, the impact it had on the project/culture/company, and why you appreciate their contribution.
Give Praise Regularly
Encouragement should be given early and often. If you are waiting to round up all of the good things your team did for their annual reviews, you are doing it way wrong. If you are holding on to praise for a weekly one-on-one, you are doing it better but still wrong. When you notice someone doing their job well, going beyond expectation, or growing, don’t hesitate to stop what you are doing and make a note of their positive contribution. This brings me to my next point…
Make It Public
A personal gesture can be sufficient, but a public one carries more weight. Recognizing your team with a megaphone means you are so pleased you’ll share it with anyone in earshot. On the receiving end of public accolade comes the positive feeling of knowing your peers see the excellent work you’ve done and leadership has noted it.
Spread the Praise Around
Working extra hours, solving the most complex problems, and being the “shining star” developer are not the only reasons to give recognition. It can be easy to spot the positive impact top employees are having within an organization, but they are not the only ones deserving of praise.
Praise should be spread around to everyone on the team for their respective contribution, growth, and development. What this looks like is a Junior Developer finishing a training course, a New Hire making their first project commit, or a developer jumping in to cover for someone out sick all receiving praise and recognition. Keep a watchful eye out for even these small opportunities to applaud your team.
Encourage Praise to Not Just Be “Top Down”
Finally, praise should not come just from leadership. It’s essential to build a culture where everyone acknowledges efforts that push the whole company forward. There are a variety of ways to facilitate spreading praise amongst your team ranging from a dedicated corkboard where notes of thanks can be pinned all the way to software tools like Lattice that integrate into a team chatroom like Slack. Find a method that works for your team and your work environment, then start by leading the effort to spread the love around.