Unleashing the full capacity of your people

The Power of the Compliment as an Engagement Tool

Compliments work wonders as a leadership habit. This video of a special education teacher using real compliments (nothing fake or shallow) to really engage and motivate his students reminds us how powerful the sharing of heartfelt compliments can be.

Chris Ulmer Special Ed Teacher

In fact, we consider seeing and acknowledging good work being done as a critical leadership habit to adopt. Seek out chances to offer acknowledgements to each employee for positive actions they took or outcomes they achieved. And, to make your praise more effective, use this mental checklist:

Make it meaningful – Relate it to the group’s mission, and how it advanced the cause.

Make it true – Praise the right person for work actually done (check beforehand!)

Make it specific – point out the particular aspect of the employee’s work that made it effective, and its positive impact on others.

Make it often – A steady stream of small compliments has greater impact than one big compliment delivered infrequently

Make it public – Many people are embarrassed on the surface when complimented in front of others, but that emotion passes, and the appreciation for having received it lasts far longer. (Of course, you can deliver thanks and appreciation in private, too, if the employee truly signals that they would prefer that.)

Make it erratic – Don’t put your compliments on a schedule. That drains some of the honesty from it. Give these moments of appreciation “in the moment,” whenever you see good work being done. Keep some genuine spontaneity engrained in your engagement efforts!

Mean it – Never give false praise! Do not manufacture compliments that are not grounded in actual workplace events and results. Insincerity will sink your engagement efforts quickly, and climbing out of that hole takes far longer than the fall into it!

Great leaders really understand the talents of their teams. They know who does what, and are generous with the compliments whenever progress is made or an issue tackled. How quick are you to offer compliments that meet the requirements we listed above?

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