The Most Key Managerial Skill: Praise

I thought I’d give my thoughts on something that I think we can all relate to, whether it be on the positive or the negative receiving end, and that’s managerial skills.  Having a good manager can totally make or break one’s experience working for a company of any kind, from a retail clothing boutique, to a major corporation.  It can be the difference between looking forward to going into work every day, or dreading it.  I wanted to figure out exactly what made a good manager a good manager, and I realized that there was one key thing they all possessed: the ability to give praise effectively, therein motivating their employees.

I think the main thing that a good manager does is give genuine praise to their employees.  Notice that I said genuine praise, because I’m not talking about fake, superficial, canned praise, like “Doin’ grrreat!  Keep it up!” as the manager strolls by anxiously on their way to another, more “important” task of their day.  I’m talking about praise that is specific, catered to the individual, telling them what an asset they are to the company and listing the actual effects that their hard work is having on the company’s success.  I would go so far as to say that if an employee does not feel that their actions as an individual have any effect on the company as a whole, they probably do not care about, let alone love, their job.  Which means they are definitely not doing their best quality work.  But conversely, if they feel like they are a crucial part of the company and their actions matter, they will do their best possible work.

As always, it comes down to treating people like human beings.  I feel like I’m always coming back to this.  No one wants to feel like a robot.  Everyone deserves to feel valued, to have dignity and to take pride in the work that they do.  And most of us are not capable of making ourselves feel like this completely on our own–we need someone else to notice our hard work and tell us that they noticed.  That is really the most important part of the role of manager: to make employees aware of the ways their actions are affecting the company as a whole.  If an employee cannot see those effects, they’re not going to work as hard because they don’t feel like what they do really matters.

Every company is really a team of people, and everyone needs to be invested and motivated in order for the team to be successful.  Managers should be great motivators.  And one of the best ways to motivate people in a business atmosphere is through praise.  If you manage people in any capacity, I would challenge you to step back and ask yourself, “how are the actions of this individual crucial to our success as a whole?”  Maybe they’re not doing their best work–in which case, you may need to ask yourself if it could possibly be because they don’t know the answer to that question.  It is your job to explain it to them.  If they are doing a great job, though, find a way to tell them that–and not only that, but also make them aware of how their success is tied to the success of the company in a specific way.  Make every employee feel genuinely valued, like they are a crucial part of your team–because guess what?  They are.