The Thing About Praise


“Would you consider giving the very thing most of us want more of – a few kind words and recognition for our successes?” – Misti Burmeister

A little praise can go a long way towards motivating employees. In fact, according to a recent Forbes article, companies that effectively appreciate employees and make them feel valued, receive “a return on equity & assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.”

Talk about making the case for kindness!

Some companies (and some leaders) understand the value of praise better than others.

Over a recent dinner at P.F. Chang’s in Tysons Corner, Virginia, I listened closely as Jim Young, a sales manager for Google, told me how his company acknowledges team members for a job well done.

“If someone goes above and beyond to take care of a customer, we have a system for immediately rewarding that person,” Jim explained. “For example, if someone drives several hours and stays longer to ensure the job gets done, I submit a form that specifically articulates what the person did and why I think it’s worthy of a cash reward. Within 24 hours, an executive has accepted my request to reward the staff member, and a check is cut immediately.”

“Wow!” I said. “How many of these small checks have you cashed?”

His response was so wise and inspiring that it has stayed with me for months now.

“I’ve received my fair share,” he said, “But I’ve given far more than I’ve received.”

What if we all took Jim’s approach to feedback? What if, instead of asking, “Don’t they see how hard I work?” we asked, “Who is really doing a great job, and how can I acknowledge them for their efforts?”

What if the old adage that “you get what you give” is true? Would you consider giving the very thing most of us want more of – a few kind words and recognition for our successes?

Maybe instead of saying, “I want them to work harder,” we’d say, “I’m going to work harder at provoking their greatness.”

Imagine how much different the business world would be if every leader, and every employee, started thinking that way.

Join the Conversation: Are you good at giving praise? Who needs your words of encouragement today?

Keeping it simple,

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across GenerationsHidden Heroes and Power Suck.

Misti on Google+

4 thoughts on “The Thing About Praise

  1. Jonathan Kraft

    I think I’m really good at giving praise. I work with a couple of business partners on a project. Each of us heads up our own teams. One of them absolutely refuses to give praise to the members of my team, despite my repeated requests and suggestions he do so. He doesn’t understand the value of a simple “Thank you” to people in email or otherwise, when it comes to the team I work with.


    He says “We’re entrepreneurs.” I tell him, “Yes, but the people working on our teams are coming from an employee mindset. Your thanks to them means things I can’t possibly convey by thanking them myself, which I do.”

    He still refuses. It drives me nuts.

    Thank you for making this point and for giving me a space to vent.


    • Misti Burmeister

      Here’s an idea for you, Jonathan… look for every chance you can to thank the guy who drives you crazy.

      It seems… though I could totally be wrong (It’s happened a few times in my life;)… that you have done everything you can to help him see the value (for you) of giving praise to your team. In fact, knowing you, you’ve probably explained how it will help him too.

      Next step (maybe)… give it to him. KEY: without expectation of anything in return.

      Maybe simply give the thing you want so much for him to give … to your team.

      If nothing else, it will stop him from annoying you… because you’ll be SO focused on looking for things to appreciate him for;)

  2. John E. Smith

    Awesome post Misti! 😀

    Most leader don’t understand just how much the micro behavior matters to the macro communication. Having a system to make this easy and multiply it is exactly what we are doing with our Teamphoria product here at SPARC. 😀

    …keep up the great work!


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