Praise at the workplace: Is it really difficult?

By April 18, 2016 No Comments

Appreciation1In the Indian mythological epic Ramayana, Lord Rama stood on the shoreline of the Indian Ocean, along with the Monkey King Bali and his Generals, wondering how to send someone across to Lanka to find out the whereabouts of his abducted wife Sita.

Hanuman, a part incarnation of Lord Shiva himself, was also among them. Unfortunately, under the influence of a curse, he had become oblivious of his own super powers – which included the ability to fly – a much needed skill in the situation.

Jamwant, the King of Bears, then praised Hanuman for his past achievements and made him realize his latent powers. It was then that he launched himself into the sky to cross the mighty ocean.
This theme, in one way or the other, keeps reappearing in the Indian mythology. Gods are all powerful. But, every time people are in distress, it requires active praising of the powers of the gods before they come to the rescue of the faithful. This conveys an important message – Everybody needs praise, even gods!

There is hardly anything that motivates you as much as a genuine praise. Praise boosts your morale, releases feel-good-hormones in your blood-stream, makes your work appear meaningful, and improves chances that you would do well in future. Research has proved beyond doubt that praise at the workplace is an important driver for employee engagement. It’s not for no reason that Gallup has the question “My boss or someone at work has praised me in last 7 days” as part of the very famous Q12.

And yet, praise is so rare. We are somehow seen to be not praising others enough, period.

What stops you?

  1. You don’t notice good work. It’s taken for granted.

Our brains are cut-out for detecting errors. We know well what ‘wrong’ looks like because it creates a sense of discomfort. “Good” on the other hand needs no attention. And hence, we take it for granted.

  1. You wait for perfection.

“Error” is anything that is away from normal. So, even perfection is an error and that’s why it gets our attention. But, perfection is rare, and, as Voltaire said – “Perfect is the enemy of Good”.  When we don’t praise “Good” , the “Good” never moves towards perfection.

  1. You believe praising others might make them arrogant and affect future performance.

There could be nothing farther from truth as this mistaken belief. Yes, it’s possible that the performance of an individual comes down immediately following a stellar performance. But, that’s because of regression to mean, not due to your innocuous praise. When you praise someone the right way, they try extra hard next time to come up to your expectations. The right way? Yes, read what Carol Dweck has to say about the right and the wrong ways of praising.

  1. You don’t know how to praise.

Lack of skill is a real tragedy and really common. If you don’t know how to praise, go ahead and learn it , like your life depended on it.

  1. You believe that you are superior to others.

Well, in that case you’re living in a dream. And, it would be bad manners if I were to wake you up.

  1. You just don’t care.

And, the world couldn’t care less. You’d be out of job, soon. My sympathies are with you.

About the Author: 

Ashutosh Sharma 2016This is a guest post by Ashutosh Sharma, General Manager – Corporate HR with Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemical Corp. Ltd. Ashutosh is the author of the books – Campus to Corporate – Managing the Transition and Corporate Training FactPack.

An Electrical Engineer from Delhi College of Engineering, Ashutosh moved to the field of HR, quite early in his career, following his interest in the people aspect of running businesses. In a career spanning 14 years, he has worked with SRF Ltd, Confederation of Indian Industry, GMR Group, and is currently working at DFPCL . You may know more about him here.

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