Giving Praise: 9 Ways To Recognize and Appreciate Your Team

Updated February 3, 2023

Receiving praise in any setting or phase of your life can make people feel appreciated. People who receive praise at work can feel encouraged to work harder, in pursuit of more potential praise and appreciation in the future. Learning how to give praise to your team members can help them become more engaged in, and proud of, their work.

In this article, we discuss what it means to give praise at work, review why that's important and give tips and ideas for giving praise in the workplace.

Giving praise at work

Coworkers smile while holding a conversation at one of their desks. Two other coworkers are seen in the background of the office, also having a discussion.

Giving praise in the workplace is a situation where a manager, supervisor or colleague gives a positive acknowledgment of someone else's work. Praise can be public or private, written or spoken. Sometimes, it may also include incentives like gifts or bonuses.

Anyone within an organization can receive praise, from volunteers to owners. Providing praise for your team members doesn't have to be costly or time-consuming, just genuine.

Related: Employee Recognition: Definition and Its Importance

Why is giving praise important in the workplace?

When people receive praise at work, it may encourage them to keep performing to the best of their abilities. Getting a compliment can reinforce an excellent or desired behavior and increase employee happiness.

Creating a culture of praise can build trust among team members and create bonds among individuals and their managers and supervisors. This can increase engagement and collaboration within departments. Creating a culture of praise can also aid employee retention and increase revenue and productivity.

Related: A Guide To Meaningful Employee Recognition

Ideas for giving praise at work

Use these ideas to help you provide positive feedback and praise to your team members:

1. Use actions

Using positive actions can help reinforce words of praise. Providing things like bonuses, gift cards, notes or other incentives can be an additional gesture that adds more meaning to the words you've spoken.

For example, if you tell a team member you like how they provided guidance and leadership on their last project, you may also allow them to be a lead on the next one, adding a credible action to your praise.

Related: 85 Unique Ways To Say "Great Job" to a Colleague

2. Recognize your hard workers

Some employees may perform more tasks or complete more work than expected on certain projects or for certain clients. They may work longer hours, take on more responsibility or handle tricky situations. Often, these employees do this extra work for the good of the project or company rather than specifically to receive praise.

If a manager or supervisor recognizes their efforts, it may encourage them to continue. Sending a note or bringing up their dedication in a one-on-one meeting could be beneficial.

3. Remind people of their valuable qualities

Every employee at every company can provide value. Sometimes, you can link praise to character qualities rather than job performance. You can tell someone how helpful, kind or funny they are as a person. Though these accolades may not directly relate to job performance, they can remind team members of their importance to the company culture and increase their confidence.

Related: Guide To Providing Feedback to Employees

4. Conduct research

On teams that are productive and dedicated, it may be easier for managers to recognize areas of improvement rather than successes because they're rarer. If you feel you're looking for places to give praise, research your team's statistics and review client feedback, logs, charts and graphs. Look at the data that tells you what your team is doing well and deliver praise about those items.

5. Praise change

If you're in a development or improvement cycle with your team, you may work towards many changes at one time. Praising your team for their progress can help remind them of their improvements and encourage them to keep working on things to get better. This can increase motivation and make a period of change easier to navigate.

Related: Professional Growth: 5 Steps To Advance in Your Career

6. Remind people of their overall contribution

Personal praise is beneficial in its own way, but reminding people that what they do has a positive impact on the entire organization can provide added value. Being part of a collection can provide motivation and encouragement to do the best you can in your role to please customers or clients. It can also help employees see how their actions affect their coworkers to create a finished product.

Related: The Importance of Teamwork (Plus 11 Ways a Team Benefits From It)

7. Give public praise

Public praise can make the impact of your words more powerful. This tactic can encourage people who typically work alone or not in public-facing roles who may hear less often how their roles are beneficial to others. Consider the personalities of your coworkers when providing public praise because some may be more receptive to it than others.

Related: Top 40 Top Ideas To Show Appreciation for Your Employees

8. Encourage peer recognition

Praise can come from anywhere within the organization, not just from management. Create opportunities for team members to praise each other, such as with brag boards, nomination contests or other public initiatives.

You can also invite them to converse individually to share praise. These initiatives can also create opportunities for team members to praise their supervisors, which may happen less frequently.

Related: 30 Genuine Compliments To Give Your Coworkers

9. Praise people behind their backs

Individual and public praise are both common practices, but you can also praise people to their coworkers, clients or other members of management as well. This tactic can be helpful when it's genuine.

For example, if you're having a discussion with another manager, you might tell them about a positive development two of your team members made to provide additional client satisfaction with their latest project.

Related: How To Respond To a Compliment at Work (With Examples)

Tips for giving praise at work

Use these tips to create a culture of praise in your work environment:

  • Be specific: When giving praise, tell someone exactly what they've done well. Give tangible examples of their favorable decisions. The more specific you can be, the more genuine the praise may feel to the employee. This also helps your team members understand the exact elements of their work that you like and encourages them to repeat it.

  • Understand the difference between praise and politeness: You can interpret general phrases such as "great job" or "nice work" both as praise and just as polite comments. Being specific in your praise can make this clearer, as can using your voice, gestures and/or expressions when delivering the message.

  • Provide praise when it's warranted: Giving praise in certain situations can be more impactful than others. Consider giving praise separately from criticism, such as at a different meeting or in a separate instance before a performance review. This can help employees distinguish between genuine praise and constructive criticism.

  • Use variety: Using a variety of words, phrases and tactics to deliver praise can help it have a more effective and impactful meaning. Focus on your employees and team members as individuals to learn their strengths. Understand what they do well and what they provide to the team compared to their coworkers.

  • Choose your timing: In psychology, positive reinforcement is the practice of rewarding someone when they perform in a certain way, so they associate the reward with that behavior and do it more often. To encourage this behavior, give praise as soon as you notice the opportunity to do so. If you delay praise for any reason, provide context about the specific instance to remind your team member of the specific situation or event.

  • Use someone's name: Addressing someone by name when giving them praise can make it seem more sincere. Personalized interactions may make them more memorable. Additionally, hearing your own name may encourage you to listen and pay more attention to what someone is saying than if they don't address you by name.

  • Match effort and praise: For example, if someone helps you with a quick task, saying a simple "thank you" or "I really appreciate it" could be comparable praise. However, when someone saves a project or provides a significant contribution to the team or company, you might provide public praise and possibly an incentive like a gift, raise or promotion.


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