Managing Praise and ... Arthur ... ... 2005 When managing a group of people there are times when you should give praise and times when you must hand out ... How and where i
Managing Praise and Criticism By Arthur Cooper (c) Copyright 2005
When managing a group of people there are times when you should give praise and times when you must hand out criticism. How and where is the balance to be struck?
In the course of your life as a manager you must do both. It is most unlikely that you have a team of constant peak performers or on the other hand a team of complete duffers. Since the chances are that your staff will fall somewhere in between these two extremes you will at times have to criticise and at other times praise.
Your object should always be to get the best out of your staff and you need to bear this in mind. You donít criticise bad work in order to feel better yourself. You do it to ensure a better performance next time. You give praise not only to show appreciation, but also to encourage even greater efforts and achievements in the future.
Some people need constant encouragement. They lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. They need constantly boosting and building up. When dealing with them always look for justified praise that you can give and be gentle in your criticism.
Others are too confident. They are so sure of themselves that they donít listen to instructions properly and often end up doing the wrong thing. These need restraining and redirecting onto the right path. Criticism may just wash off them like water off a duckís back, but donít let that stop you giving it when it is needed.
Then you have the careless, the lazy, and the totally inept. With them you need to apply all your skills to deploy praise and criticism, the carrot and stick, as and when needed. By a combination of praise, criticism, encouragement, and training many of these people can be turned around to do a good job.
So modify your own actions according to the circumstances. Adjust the balance of praise and criticism to suit the personality of the person at the receiving end.
When praising, be careful about praising an individual in front of all his colleagues. At times this can be absolutely the correct thing to do. After all in the business world it is not enough to be good Ė you have to be seen to be good. There is always a place for public recognition of excellent performance. But beware of constantly singling out one team member for public praise whilst neglecting all the others, even if this is deserved. It can lead to resentment and accusations of favouritism. It can result in team members refusing to cooperate with the Ďstar performerí, and eventually a drop off in the performance of the whole team.
Praise should be specific. A general comment of Ďwell doneí is not good enough. You must show by your remarks that you have taken enough interest to know just what it is that is so praiseworthy. Show by the remarks you make that you really mean what you are saying and understand the obstacles that have been overcome.
Donít fall into the trap of constantly giving praise for the smallest little thing. Donít be effusive over work that should be part of normal day-to-day expectations. This just devalues the praise that you give. After all, you are not dealing with children who need to be encouraged at every step but with adults paid to produce a certain expected minimum performance. Save praise for something outstanding.
But donít go to the other extreme of constantly finding fault and systematically criticising even the smallest little error or shortcoming. Most people are aware of and regret their occasional minor mistakes and will do their best to avoid repeating them. They donít need to be reminded of them. If all you ever do is criticise, then your staff will eventually come to the conclusion that whatever they do will not be good enough. They will stop trying.
If job performance really falls short of the requirement then of course you must say so. Criticise the work whilst staying calm and analytical. Base your comments on facts rather than opinions. Be specific. Donít get angry and donít make personal attacks. Emphasise how important it is to get the job done correctly. Always bear in mind that the purpose of criticism is to get things done better in the future.
Whatever you do, donít let the occasion become a monologue. Use it to establish a two-way exchange of views. Criticism on its own is not enough. Find out the causes. The meeting should be aimed at finding a solution for the present and an improvement for the future. Get the individual concerned to acknowledge his past mistake and to agree on the actions to take to avoid its repetition.
Always try to end the interview on a lighter note. If you can, refer to some other work by the same person that was well done. Praise that piece of work in order to soften the blow of your earlier criticism and to demonstrate that good work is appreciated.
In conclusion, remember that the worst thing you can do to any member of your staff is to ignore them. The worst thing you can do is to let weeks go by without a comment of any sort. The worst feeling anyone can experience is to be ignored, forgotten, taken for granted, and undervalued. Show them that you care Ė one way or another Ė and praise or criticise as appropriate.