Giving Praise that Inspires: Going Above and Beyond ‘Good Job!’

Praise is a powerful motivator. Though it may seem simple, it can inspire your team to greatness. Maximize it by taking your recognition efforts to a whole new level with these simple but effective tips. 

Be genuine

Praise just for the sake of praise isn’t genuine. If you aren’t genuine, you lessen the impact it leaves, because everyone can tell your heart isn’t in it. 

Give yourself a few minutes to think before you praise the employee. What really stuck with you? What did the employee excel at? What did the employee do or say that made you smile and think, “they’ve got this!” Use details so the praise is specific and authentic to the person being praised.  

Also, let the person know what other people said about working with him or her. Did they get positive feedback from a customer? Or maybe someone on the team noticed how hard they were working. Use what you already know and be honest about how you feel in order to make a genuine impact.

Give constructive criticism later

A trap many managers fall into: Offering praise with a side of constructive feedback: You did a great job handling that customer’s complaint, but next time …. 

Another flawed strategy is the “compliment sandwich” – that is beginning and ending with some positive feedback with constructive criticism snuck into the middle of the conversation.  

In the end, all the person hears is what they should have done, rather than what they did well. Offer praise and recognize the good deeds now. Set aside time separately to discuss constructive criticism and avoid using praise to sugarcoat it 

Go hunting

It’s human nature – we’re programmed to look for issues and problems. Instead of keeping an eye out for bad things, flip it and try to catch employees doing good things, and recognize achievements in the moment. It’ll improve your relationship with your team and motivate everyone to do even better. 

Take some time to figure out what drives your team members as individuals as well. Everyone is unique and there is not one kind of praise that fits all. Get to know your team and what drives them, and use it to your advantage to push them to greater heights.  


Here’s something that’ll mix up the next praise you give: Surprise your employees with unexpected recognition. 

Receiving surprise praise is so much better than winning Employee of the Month. Nothing leaves a bigger impact that a surprise visit from a leader thanking an employee for a job well done. 

Create the culture

Take a look around your office: Is it a “recognition culture?” Do people often bring forward examples of outstanding action? If not, it’s time to start one. 

Before your next meeting, ask everyone to bring an example or two of a co-worker they praised for something that week. Even if it seems a little forced in the beginning, people will adapt and look forward to it. 

By practicing the previous tips, you can make a strong example of yourself as well. If others see you more actively recognizing and praising, they will follow suit.