There have been many times when I felt like my efforts have gone unnoticed. The pride felt for going well above and beyond job expectations in order to accomplish a challenging task can be sometimes diminished by the lack of praise, or lack of notice from my leadership. Although I am self-motivating and always pushing myself to do better, it is always nice to feel appreciated.
As a leader, I have always viewed my daily accomplishments as a standard to surpass the following day. It is something I have done for years in order to remain relevant and to challenge myself to do better. While I strongly believe that you should let your work speak for you, and your performance should be your signature card, praise from your leaders can amplify the desire to always excel. Praise can fill your team with pride and can become something to look forward to during the most challenging of days.
Growing up, my parents instilled in me the importance of gratitude and manners. Those values still resonate in my mind during my interactions with others. Words like “please” or “thank you” may seem unnecessary, and at times remain an unspoken assumption when giving instructions or guidance to employees, but nothing could be further from the truth.
There will be times when disciplinary measures will not require the use of these words. When serious consequences are the result of gross negligence or dereliction of duty, and the employee needs to be made aware about the gravity of the offense, these words are not necessary.
Mistakes are unavoidable. Some employees will make more mistakes than others but a good manager has the ability to recognize when a mistake is the result of miscommunication, misunderstanding, or simply lack of concern on the part of the employee for established operational procedures.
Under-appreciation can be as equally demoralizing and ineffective for a team as over-appreciation. Many times, I have witnessed inexperienced leaders who are extremely fast and efficient initiating the disciplinary process but painfully slow when it comes to recognizing exceptional performance. Some organizations have established reward programs such as “on the spot” awards, as a way to praise employees through a small monetary tokens of appreciation. While the recipients are grateful for the rare monetary surprise, this type of recognition can create resentment from members of the team that may already feel unappreciated. It can also cheapen praise for outstanding performance if such praise is not accompanied with some sort of monetary compensation.
One of the many challenges faced by leaders is the achievement of balance between the myriad of responsibilities that come with the position and the ability to remain aware of all aspects in regards to the performance of the team. It is too easy to erroneously profile outstanding performers as good employees and poor performers as challenging employees. It is the manager’s responsibility to mentor and develop the team for the successful accomplishment of the mission.
In order to successfully manage individuals and increase situational awareness, leaders should at all times communicate with their team. Situational awareness can help managers evaluate the mood, obstacles, challenges, and communication concerns faced by their employees. Well timed words of encouragement can sometimes make the difference between an effective and an ineffective team. Honest and meaningful praise is not only a tool for successful leaders but also a way to show your employees that you sincerely appreciate their efforts.
Stay abreast of all aspects of your team’s performance and be understanding of your employees’ shortcomings. It is human to err at times but recognizing and praising your team, when warranted, can make your employees strive to always surpass expectations.
Alberto Principe is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.