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Praise and Recognition - 2 September 2008

We’re developing a dangerous habit in our society - the habit of focusing on the negative. Newspapers dedicate more space to what’s wrong with the world rather than what’s right with it. People stress over a pimple rather than marvelling at their good health. Reality TV shows bring contestants down rather than build them up.

This negativity habit is also spilling into the workplace. Managers spend more time trying to catch employees doing things wrong rather than trying to catch them doing things right. In the end, we end up treating our dogs better than our fellow humans.

When dogs learn a new trick, they’re lavished with praise and recognition by their owners. But when employees achieve a new milestone, their accomplishments are usually ignored. Here’s what we can learn from dog owners:

Say “good doggie”: Or “awww, you’re such a good dog”. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” And it’s so true. A kind word when delivered as soon as the good deed is done, with specific detail on what was so great, and without following it with the word 'but', can make someone’s day.

Pat their belly: Or scratch behind their ears and give them a nice long stroke down their back. I don’t recommend patting your employees, but I do suggest making a connection. Your praise needs to be in person – not via email. Be sincere with your recognition by being purposeful and meaning what you say.

Give them a bone: Or a treat or a toy. At work, the best rewards are a surprise. Recognise your employees by surprising them with something out of the ordinary, such as a housekeeper to clean their house, a session with a specialist (like a personal trainer or a financial adviser), or anything else that will create a memory, not just an experience.

If you're too lazy to make the effort to praise your employees, you'll find that just like a neglected puppy dog, they'll run away.

 

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