Get Better Performance With Specific Praise
Updated: Nov 26
It is very easy for us to praise the outcome from the performance of an individual. For example, we're happy to praise our children for winning an award, or being on a championship sports team. We are also very quick to praise the folks we work with when they earn some kind of achievement, or perhaps come in on a project ahead of the deadline. I would also like to hope that we are praising our spouses for the things that they do, both big and small.
However, we often fail to address the heart. How can you find praise for an average performance? How do you celebrate somebody that does the same thing day in and day out without much exception? For example, let's say your wife makes dinner for you and your family every single night. Of course you are likely to tell her that the food is good and that you appreciate all that she does for you. How do you praise your children when they get a B minus on a very large project they're working on?
There are many ways that you can approach the subject of rewarding the people in your life and providing that constructive feedback. My biggest recommendation is that you simply address the heart. I think that you need to make note of their effort. When you take the time to notice the little things, you will appear more genuine than by simply saying "good job" at the end of it all. Think about how good it would feel to have someone notice a small, non tangible aspect of your performance. It feels much better than a generic compliment.
Human beings tend to repeat what feels good. Good performance, when properly rewarded, tends to continue and improve, especially when specific aspects of the good performance are brought to light. This gives the subordinate information they need in order to repeat that good performance. The same can be said for good behavior. When children are being nice to one another, you should tell them that you appreciate how they are showing their love for their brother or sister. Specific, good behavior is often repeated.
Active praise will serve you well. If you are able to make this a regular part of your communication style, you will find that people will flock to you in record numbers. Many thousands of books have been written about this very approach, with the most famous being the book by dale Carnegie. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" remains one of the most popular books on communication that this world has ever known. Being specific and paying attention to the other person are the top two key strategies in building trust and relationships. When you master that, performance will immediately follow.
Of course it's not always easy to notice the details when you're attempting to give someone a proper compliment. Try not to stress out, because that will only further reduce your ability to do the right thing. Instead, simply admit the fact that you wish you could complement the details, because you realize that this kind of achievement or consistency is not easy to have. I think that your honesty and vulnerability here will build trust in a very remarkable way. I have personally experienced this throughout my military and civilian careers. People want to work with people that they can trust, and I believe that to be truly timeless.
Hi, I'm Gary, the author here and founder of Blue Collar Consulting Group. I really enjoy writing about performance, motivation, and leadership. Most of my experience comes from over two decades in the Army and Army Reserve, although I had two very lucrative civilian careers as well. In other words, I think I have good experience in both the military and in the civilian markets! Your interaction is priceless to me, and I would like to invite you to connect via social media. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Hope to see you and connect with you there!