When talking to an employee about the work they have done, it is important to understand the implications of the audience to the feedback you are giving. While constructive criticism is best given in private, praising a colleague or employee’s good work is something that deserves public attention. There are many benefits to communicating praise not only to the recipient of the praise but also to their coworkers.
As a manager, it is simple to inculcate public praise into monthly and even weekly practice. In our recent book, Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition, Mary Catherine Bateson, cultural anthropologist, encourages leaders to praise publicly. “…walk down the aisle and say in a loud clear voice, ‘Hey Bill, that report you just sent me hit the nail on the head!’ It doesn’t have to be ceremonially public.” When you spontaneously give public praise, it lets your employees know that you see the significant effort that they are putting into helping the company grow.
Public praise creates positive and electrifying energy to fire-up individuals and the entire team. When you communicate praise to the whole team instead of just a single person, that energy can cultivate a culture of collaboration and partnership. Jennifer Bentz, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation at Tyson Foods, supports the idea that public praise can build community in the workplace. She says, “As a cultural tenant in the organization, praise motivates the group to get rid of negativity – it opens up the road to positive interaction and discovery. When optimistic energy is present, the team gets going.” Praise has the power to build positive energy within an organization, generating mutual motivation and encouraging employees to support one another.
Praise is also important for the entire organization. Even external public praise serves to support the ecosystem, showcasing hard work and well-deserved success of the organization. The Chicago Innovation Awards is a great example of the power of public praise. Each year, the Chicago Innovation Awards recognizes 25 organizations publicly in front of 1500 people at the stunning Harris Theater in Chicago, as well as around the country when they ring the closing NASDAQ bell in New York City. When you expose people to that level of public praise, you can really see what it does to their team and their culture. After winning a Chicago Innovation Award, many organizations go on to leverage the media attention to raise even more capital.
As with the Chicago Innovation Awards, it is not just the boss who can praise publicly. An employee can have a big role in supporting the spirit of collaboration and shared praise in the workplace. A community where praise travels from coworker to coworker, from manager to employee, and from employee to manager is a community that fosters a collaborative mindset and a supportive culture. Authentic public praise can have a positive effect on everyone within earshot, so give it liberally.