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Topics: Talent Management

Has anyone got any advice on how to gauge too much / too little praise? I feel awkward giving praise - any suggestions?

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Praising your staff it is not a sin! especially when it is trully deserved, however, dishing out praise by the bucketful and placing people on pedestals it is unhealthy and may not come across as sincere. Acknowledging effort, saying thank you to a good job done will motivate people, it is good management and it is expected. You may want to consider having a formal appraisal process where it provides the correct platform and opportunity to discuss progress, strengths and weaknesses with individuals providing constructive feedback at regular intervals e.g. every 3 months. The question I would ask you is why do you feel awkward giving praise! as this may impose a problem between you and your staff longer term.

Praise is pretty much like tipping, in my opinion. You don't tip a waiter that provided awful service, do you? But it doesn't feel awkward to tip someone who was professional and efficient, right?

If a member of you team did a particularly good job, chances are all he or she really wants is to know that *you* know the extra effort they put in. Acknowledge it, give them a virtual pat on the back, and move on - it doesn't have to be a grandiose display of thanksgiving.

I agree with Vasoula that a formal appraisal process should work well.

Personally, I always treat praise cautiously to ensure not over- or under-doing it. Think about how you treat your spouse with praise and I believe the same method applies here. It is not quantity but sincerity that counts for praise.

I don't think that a manager or leader can ever praise too much, as long as it is honest and worthy. Too often managers get into the habit of praising people who do adequate work, but not really great work. My rule regarding individual praise is that it for things that are above and beyond...for team accomplishments, I always praise the team and not indviduals. Too much praise for mundane actions creates false expectations.

Thanks guys for the responses: it is a fine line bewteen too much and too little. We have started to conduct 360 reviews so hopefully I can get feedback from the team.

I often praise good work and let people know their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
A simple "Thankyou, good job" is often all that is needed. I also celebrate project milestones with the project team. As most people on my projects are not under my direct line management I don't do their performance appraisals, but I do let their line managers know what their performance was like for me.

Kevin, agree. 'Too much praise for mundane actions creates false expectations.'

This will slowly makes people feel numb towards praise.

In response to Wai Mun Koo- how many times have you been "over praised"?
Unfortunately praise is usualy rare and over praise almost unheard of. So erring on what you may consider over praising is actually better than under praising.

Julie, over praising usually does less harm to the person being praised than those not. For the person being praised too much and too often, he or she might get numb towards those typical "Good job, well done!" words. Not that the person will not appreciate, but it will sound like typical "Thank you, take care" to him or her. As for those that are not praised, hearing such praises will make them start to doubt the sincerity of the praise and the value of them. Next time, when they hear the same from their boss, they might naturally think that "oh yes, this is just another punctuation in the sentence."

In one of the one-to-one sessions with my direct reports, one of them actually asked if what his peer has done is really so great compared to what he has achieved.

I believe the question here is not so much on over praised, but how we can praise appropriately to give the right credit to people accordingly. Over doing it has two effects - there is lack of differentiation and the numbing effect.

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