Exceptional managers and employers don't wait to recognize top people for great work; they make it part of their daily routine, says Dharmesh Shah, CTO and cofounder of HubSpot, a Massachusetts-based marketing and sales software company.
"It's always been funny to me how companies and managers institutionalize praise with formal accolades, badges, and programs," he says. "An employee does a truly remarkable job on a task or project, and a manager chooses to hold off praising the employee until a special occasion, or a regularly scheduled reward interval, such as a quarterly 'team member of the month,' meeting."
But, if you had a great idea that could change your business, you wouldn't wait for a biannual meeting to share or implement it — so, why wait to show your top-performing employees your appreciation?
"The more you are willing to share credit for great accomplishments, the more your company and your team will achieve great things," Shah says.
Here are two simple ways to brighten your employees' day:
1. A "predictive compliment."
"Most compliments at work come, in the historical sense, for something an employee has already done," Shah says. "But the most powerful form of compliment at work might be a forward-looking one."
For example, if a new sales rep is struggling with confidence on the phone during her first week, don't look backwards and say, "We hired you because you have a great resume and people skills." Instead, look forward with something like, "I know it's tough, but I really believe in you: If you push forward, I think you will end up being one of our top performers on the sales team."
"Greatness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, making employees feel more self-assured and confident each day on the job," Shah says. "Seeing something an employee might not yet see in him or herself yet shows faith and inspires trust, both of which can turn a day — and an employee's attitude — around very quickly."
2. A social shout out.
Every employee, regardless of their level, likes a pat on the back for their good work, Shah explains. "But taking that recognition a step further to a public forum can provide a significant boost to an employee's confidence and motivation, particularly after a challenging project or task."
Next time someone on your team does something truly remarkable, post it to Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, he says. "You're not just telling their peers or superiors how awesome they are; you're telling the world."
Far too many executives worry that by praising exceptional people in external forums, they open the floodgates to people poaching them, Shah adds. "Showing that vulnerability a bit sends a strong message to your entire organization: We care more about highlighting amazing employees than we do about the slight fear of losing them to another organization or job."
And it doesn't matter if you don't have a huge social following, he says. It's the thought (and recognition) that counts.
"Just as you don't want employees to wait for an invitation to improve your business, don't wait for a promotion period to show your top performers you care," Shah concludes.
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