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Praise - what's the big deal?

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Emma Gregory praise, motivation, self esteem...

Recently we attended the Business Travel People Awards 2018 and were privileged to witness recognition of some of the industry’s most deserving talent. It was a great day, you could see the pride on the faces of those who were nominated, the delight of the winners and the support from the companies they work for. Since then,  we’ve been asking ourselves the question; “why is it so important to be praised for what we do in life?” And this spans much more than in the work arena, how about things we do for our families, for our health, for our friends… we all enjoy recognition for achievements and this encouragement is what drives us to do better time and time again.

We are told to always praise and encourage our children as they master new skills socially, mentally and physically. We would never just ignore something they achieve as we can see the effort it has taken to get there – have you ever witnessed a baby trying to roll over for the first time? It can take weeks of mini movements, twisting of the body and gaining the strength to seize the opportunity of momentum and flip over. But when they get it, we heap praise on them as if they’ve just won a Nobel prize. The clapping, cheering and social media sharing demonstrates our pride and only motivates our children to do it again.

Positive praise at work isn’t equivalent to a quick “well done” as you pass in the corridor. It needs to be on-going, personal and uplifting. It’s a well known fact that being praised makes people feel good. And when they feel good, there are increased emotions of pride, pleasure and self esteem – and who wouldn’t want to make their employee’s feel like that? This isn’t just stating the obvious, it’s actually proven that being motivated and rewarded, even in verbal form triggers the release dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter whose pathways play a major role in the motivational component of reward -motivated behaviour. It can also contribute towards innovative thinking and problem solving skills in the workplace so in reality, you are dealing with an inbuilt key skill that can be unlocked with a simple but transformative act.  (Read The Training Journal for more info)

Candidates often confide in us that they feel de-motivated at work through lack of recognition.  They may be a silent worker, someone who sits there, gets on with their work and doesn’t make a song and dance about every little thing they do. And sometimes, that goes unnoticed and leaves the best workers feeling unappreciated and under valued.  Think honestly, how many times do you tell someone they’ve done a good job? Or that you are proud of how they handled a certain situation? You don’t have to be their direct supervisor to do this, even a well placed compliment from a colleague can go a long way. Caroline and I often praise each other for ideas we have for our business, for they days that are so busy we barely have time to look up from our desks, for solving a difficult situation… and for managing to stay sane on they days we take our kids to a restaurant!  

As a race, we crave acknowledgement for the things we do well.  We all yearn to feel important in many aspects of our life. In our opinion, this doesn’t cause someone’s ego to swell or give them ideas above their station. It motivates, inspires and warms the heart of people, making them smile and releasing vital “feel good” endorphins.

So whether you spot a colleague who has been for an early morning run in an attempt to get fitter (me), you see a supervisor resolve a situation with great skill, or, you know the person sat next to you is having a difficult time in their life yet managing to carry on – let them know with a compliment – it will work wonders.