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The power of praise

When was the last time you told someone they'd done a great job? Today? Last week? Not sure?


Managing people can be hard and when you’re caught up in the day to day it’s all too easy to forget to acknowledge achievements.

But one of the greatest tools in your armoury is the power of praise. It can play a key role in getting the best from your team and helping them reach their potential.

Think about a child learning to ride a bike. How would you encourage them? Would you set them the task and tell them to crack on, or would you encourage them and praise them at every point of progress they made? It’s (hopefully) the latter.

It’s not just children that benefit from praise, your team will too.

One minute praising

If you want to get better at praising, there’s real gold in The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

It’s all about seizing the moment and telling people when they are doing something right. It doesn’t have to be award winning, world beating, or game changing – remember the child on the bike, they weren’t praised because they were going to be the next Mark Cavendish, they were praised because they were making progress.

Here’s how the one-minute praising works:

The first half-minute

  • Praise as soon as possible
  • Tell them what they did right – get specific
  • Tell them how what they did helps and how good you feel about it

Pause for a moment so they can feel good about what they’ve done

The second half-minute

  • Encourage them to do more of the same
  • Make it clear you have confidence in them and support them

Don’t look for perfection

When you’re giving out praise, you’re not looking for perfection, you’re looking for a job well done. Back to the kid on the bike again… you don’t wait for them to be able to ride for a minute unaided before you tell them well-done, you praise them for lifting both feet off the ground, for the first time you let go of the seat, for the wobbly ten seconds on the park path, and for skilfully avoiding an oncoming tree. Praise the ‘almost right’, the ‘getting there’, and the ‘just needs a tweak’ and progress and (near) perfection will be quicker to come.

Set achievable targets

One minute praising is a great way to encourage people on their journey to success – to help them acknowledge progress on the way to achieving bigger goals. But to be able to do this you need to make sure people are working towards achievable targets. When both parties know what the end goal is it’s easier to recognise and acknowledge the achievements along the way.

Be democratic

It’s often the one that shouts loudest, the one that brings in the new business, or the one that’s client facing that gets the recognition. For a praise culture to work it needs to be democratic, after all everyone is contributing to success, and everyone is working towards personal goals. Make a conscious effort to seek out and recognise the successes that go under the radar, the efforts that keep the wheels turning but don’t get their moment in the sun.

It’s just one minute…

It seems like a really simple thing to do but don’t underestimate the impact of the one minute praise. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to give little boosts, small nuggets of acclaim and you’ll soon start to see the power of praise in action.