Giving praise is a simple yet powerful leadership tool. It costs nothing and can give an immeasurable return on investment.

I was, therefore, surprised to learn of a recent Harvard survey that concluded that giving negative and corrective feedback is an integral part of the remit of being a leader, however, giving positive feedback and praise is only perceived as being optional.

Out of a survey of c 8000, 21% of the participants admitted avoiding giving negative feedback whereas a much higher number, 37%, admitted that they don’t give positive reinforcement.

 Is it not the time to shift the balance?

Praise and recognition motivates, builds self-esteem and confidence and makes you feel valued. It can influence a positive, forward thinking and valued working environment where teams are motivated to go above and beyond in their roles.

There’s also a science behind the benefits of praise. Pride, pleasure and an increased feeling of self-worth are all common reactions to being paid a compliment or receiving positive feedback. This is because it triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. As well as making us feel good, dopamine can contribute to innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.

Whilst it’s important to give recognition and praise, it must be genuine, authentic and succinct. If it’s not genuine or is overplayed, it defeats the object. If it’s too broad or general the recipient won’t believe it. Find something legitimate and almost as soon as you recognise it, give praise. By praising, you clearly demonstrate to your team members that you want them to succeed. The result of a simple and sincere well done has a positive impact on productivity, engagement and results.

Appreciate people throughout the day and catch them doing things well rather than catching them out doing something wrong and notice the difference you will make to your team and the culture of the business.

David Guile is an Executive Leadership Coach. Having worked his way up through all the managerial levels within the hospitality industry to CEO, he combines hard-won experience with a robust coaching methodology to provide insights, support and direction to help emerging leaders find, own and work their potential and the potential of others.

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