Close Menu

Are You Ready to Lead?

Article originally posted in ACRP Michael Causey.


Susan_smith_kuczmarski_author_Lifting_people_upWhile many clinical trial professionals struggle with the lack of clear career paths in the industry, there are tools, tactics, and best practices to help spot and leverage new opportunities. In this occasional series, we’ll hear from leading experts both in and outside the clinical trial industry as they offer insights on how to thrive in an ever-changing workforce.

New managers and leaders are sometimes too heavy with the stick and sparing with the carrot when they take on a new post. That’s a mistake.

“Use praise and recognition as a key component of your management strategy” from the very beginning, says Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski, author of Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition. A management style designed to appeal to an organization’s most important resource—its people—can be highly effective, she said.

Based on extensive research and interviews in the field, she’s come up with an eight-point approach to help new leaders thrive from the beginning:

  1. View good communication as an ongoing and essential ingredient of people management.
  2. Know that praise and recognition can help to make everyone in an organization feel valued.
  3. Personalize praise—Match the right kind and amount of praise to each recipient.
  4. Use written and other tangible forms of recognition, not just verbal praise, and give one’s time as part of the process.
  5. Praise on the scene and behind the scenes.
  6. Praise both the effort and the outcome.
  7. Create a system for giving praise and be creative and consistent.
  8. Recognize the power of indirect praise.

“Not all praise gets communicated directly from manager to employee—sometimes it arrives in a more indirect fashion,” Kuczmarski elaborated.

For example, a senior executive at a consumer products company recounted being on the receiving end of this behind-your-back praise during the course of Kuczmarski’s research. “If I tell one of my older team members, ‘you know I just love this quality (e.g., helps others out, bold expression of ideas, etc.) about another young team member,’ it gets back to the young one.” In this situation, the young team member hears the praise from others, not directly from the original giver.

“The praise bounces forward to the person who has done something noteworthy,” Kuczmarski said. In a sense, praising from behind actually amplifies the praise through each of the multiple points of contact it passes. When it reaches the recipient, indirect praise can provide recognition and a feeling of reward just as well. It, too, can lift people up, she said.