Praise can be an extremely effective Intrinsic motivation tool. Praise supports the effort to increase all three tenets of Intrinsic Motivation techniques; those three tenets being Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
Often, leaders confuse Rewards with Praise. This happens even though Praise and Rewards are different types of motivational tools. Praise is a tool leaders need to use frequently on a daily basis. Rewards, on the other hand, is an Extrinsic motivational technique that is delivered to employees on an intermittent basis. The use of Rewards includes some type of gift (such as money, plaques, or some type of trinket), and is reserved for use when an individual/team achieves a certain goal. As a result, even though Rewards are much easier for a leader to deliver than Praise, the use of Rewards does not have anywhere near the lasting impact that Praise does.
On the other hand, Praise is a tool that is utilized to reinforce desired behavior and to emphasize that the leader recognizes and appreciates an individual’s effort. Regular use of Praise allows team members to see what type of behavior is desired, as well as, to feel that their effort is appreciated. A focus on praise also forces the leader to notice the effort that goes into achieving the organization’s goal. This reinforces the “feeling” on the part of the team member that their leader truly cares about what they do; a crucial aspect of Intrinsic motivation techniques.
Now, we are not saying that all effort should be praised. But a leader should praise the following:
– significant additional effort towards the organization’s goals
– consistent improvement of an individual’s skill/effort level
– when an individual sees and does an important task, before they are asked to do it
– other behavior that the leader wants to reinforce and get additional team members to exhibit
How Praise is delivered is critical to ensuing that the Praise is impactful. This is the number one reason many leaders avoid using praise. It requires more effort to make sure that the praise a leader delivers has all the ingredients necessary to be sincere and impactful. For example, when a leader says “Good Job”, most employees find that to be meaningless. On the other hand, effective Praise includes the following five ingredients:
– What did the person specifically do?
– Why was it beneficial to the team or organization?
– How did it impact others/operation?
– How did it make you feel as a leader?
– Expressing gratitude
Lastly, when giving praise, a leader needs to be careful not to Sandwich the Praise with constructive (or non-constructive) criticism. Praise and criticism need to be delivered at different times. When Praise and criticism are delivered at the same time, the result is that team member feels like crap; and the intended positive impact of Praise is lost.
“Praise effort, Reward results”