Praise and Recognition Cost Nothing

Last night I met with a group of small business owners and the conversation turned to the topic of employee praise and recognition.It was fascinating to listen to different viewpoints on this matter. I have long been a strong proponent of the notion “what gets rewarded gets repeated” and have frequently reminded senior managers that ignoring this sage advice will be at their own peril.

Some Don't Praise

It seems not everyone agrees. On several occasions managers have told me that under no circumstances do they believe it to be valuable or appropriate to provide praise for a job well done because, “Their paycheque, and the fact that they haven’t been fired, is all the praise that is necessary.”Interesting view point, but I strongly disagree.In my company, one of the many services we offer is to conduct exit interviews with employees of our client companies. An exit interview is a conversation we have with an employee who has resigned. The intent is to determine the primary, secondary and other causes behind their reason to leave to provide the company with information that may help them in retaining valuable staff.We have been doing this for many years and have compiled a very thorough and detailed database filled with information much of which I often use as “teachable moments” for our clients.Naturally, these interviews begin by asking for those reasons the employee is departing and as can be expected from having conducted thousands of these interviews, the reasons given for leaving are many and varied.There is however one reason mentioned more than any other. It is not only the most frequently received reason, it is cited more often than all the others combined.Here it is: People leave companies because they do not feel valued or appreciated.In other words, when good performance goes unacknowledged, it is viewed as an unimportant, and unworthy of praise and recognition.And after a period of time, employees who never receive positive feedback become disengaged and may begin peeking over the fence to see how green the grass is on the other side.There is a vast body of data that addresses the cost of hiring and replacing employees. Depending on the type of work being done, and the seniority of the position, the cost of replacing employee may well be as high as a two or even three times multiple of their annual salary.

Praise and Recognition as Motivators

The cost of not believing in praise and recognition as motivators to do even better, often results in the loss of a valued employee followed by the cost of both finding and then training their replacement.The cost of a kind word is a zero.In fact, kind words may well lead to improved performance.Which suggests the philosophy of not praising is an unsuccessful business practice.If you recall last week, we explored the principle that one of the traits of great leadership is complete ownership of  everything.  That means everything that works, and everything that doesn’t.If it is true that people do not leave companies, they leave managers, then every manager who views him or herself as a great leader needs to readily acknowledge they bear full responsibility for all employees: the ones that stay and do a great job, the ones that stay and do a mediocre job, the ones that under perform and those around them who quit.  Again, strong, stellar leaders  don’t cherry pick only the results they wantBy the way, here is a simple formula to consistently get the best out of people: Part 1 - Treat people as they want to be treated, Part 2 - Be kind – it costs nothing.Till we read again.   

One Comment

  • Thanks for awesome summary of the meeting and I loved what you shared about what your wife had said to one of her coworkers that impacted them so profoundly. I like your “mantra” what gets acknowledged/praised gets repeated “. I can’t remember your words exactly but I hope I’m close!

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