How Important is Praise in Business?

When to Praise

Knowing when and how to praise

Many psychologists would agree that positive reinforcement is significantly more effective than punishment. Many executives would agree employee recognition leads to an increased bottom line. Many doctors would agree that the release of dopamine in the brain whenever we hear something we enjoy is a powerful thing. And then there are the studies.

Ragan.com shares a collection of studies that sets the record straight, direct from the mouths of employees themselves. And the results are as important as they are unsurprising. A whopping 78% of U.S. workers say being recognized motivates them in their job, while 69% say they’d work harder if they were better recognized. And in the interest of employee retention, you might want to note that 49% of employees said they would leave their current job for a company that recognized employees for their efforts and contributions.

So it’s no surprise that employees want to hear that they’re doing a good job from time to time. You probably do, too. It’s a key factor in motivation and engagement and it could be one of the biggest factors in keeping your employees off LinkedIn job searches.

When to Praise

So you know praise is important and that your employees are likely to give a better performance with it by their side, but how often do your employees want to be praised? Ragan.com says employees want some kind of recognition every 7 days. Unfortunately, studies show only 16% of leaders meet that expectation, while 51% only offer praise once a quarter, or even more infrequently.

You might find every 7 days is a bit frequent but understand praise doesn’t have to be a big gesture; it could just be a genuine pat on the back. Or, it could be more…

Types of Praise

Frequent praise can be a quick “good job” or another version of verbal high-fiving. But there are other options to consider. Ragan.com breaks down what kind of recognition employees value most at work:

  • 24% prefer rewards like money or gift cards
  • 28% prefer regular ol’ praise
  • 30% prefer growth opportunities

Praise Mistakes

So what might you be doing wrong? Here are some common mistakes managers make in an attempt to bridge the recognition gap.

  • Offering token gestures – recognition should fit the degree of achievement. Offering a stapler for someone’s 10-year anniversary might not match up. Likewise, don’t go overboard with your offerings.
  • Being wrong – don’t mix up someone’s name or achievement. Congratulating someone on a job well done that they didn’t do, or passing over a key contributor, might cause more harm than good.
  • Being vague – when you say “good job,” tie an action to it. What did they do a good job on? Be specific.

So how do you measure up against these statistics? Are you offering as much recognition as desired by your team, or do you have some room for growth? If it’s the latter, put in some honest effort and see if things don’t turn around.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Top 10 Quotes to Get You to the Top

“All great changes are preceded by chaos” – Deepak Chopra

“All great changes are preceded by chaos” – Deepak Chopra

I offer a lot of tips and ideas here that will help you become a better employee or manager and advance in your career. But sometimes we need a little more than just knowing the right or wrong way to do something.

So I’m sharing a collection of quotes that might help you through the day in those moments when hard work and big hopes start to fall flat.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth

Each mistake is an opportunity for growth. Learn from the moments that don’t go as planned and put that experience toward your next approach.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos” – Deepak Chopra

Feeling flustered with your current situation and all it seems you have to do? The dust will settle. But until then, keep the goal in mind.

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe” – Abraham Lincoln

Abe’s tool was his axe. What’s yours? Maybe it’s your work ethic or a particular skill. Take the time to sharpen it properly before you start swinging and not only will you do a better job, you’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary setbacks.

“The harder I work, the luckier I get” – Gary Player

Do you believe in luck? I don’t. But a great work ethic and a positive attitude will have you rolling in the riches of what seems, to the untrained eye, to be luck.

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile” – Roger Staubach

You might have some competition on the main road to your goals, but the road with the extra time and effort is usually an empty one. Put in that extra work and you’ll arrive at your destination in no time.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

Take a look back at your former achievements. Surely there were a few that seemed unlikely to occur at the moment you began. But now? It’s done. Apply that experience to your next impossibility so you can stand at the end of another accomplishment.

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

Don’t let a misstep get you down or you really never will reach your goals.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Fear is a great driving force, however deterring it can be. Own it, embrace it, let it drive you, use it for good.

“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

What’s been holding you back from continuing on your career path? If worry or fear top the list, it’s time to push through it.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay

Concerned about your career future? Identify what job you want and then create it. Don’t wait around for your dream job to come to you.

Feeling pumped now? Go out there and get that dream job. Chances are the only thing holding you back is you.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Do Your Colleagues See You the Same Way You Do?

Watch your body language

Watch your body language

Have you heard the saying that goes something like this: if you don’t know who the office jerk is, it’s probably you?

You might be a well-intentioned manager that feels like a team player, but there might be something about your approach that prohibits your employees and colleagues from agreeing.

Columbia Business School suggests those who are rough around the edges at work don’t necessarily know it. “Finding the middle ground between being pushy and being a pushover is a basic challenge in social life and the workplace. We’ve now found that the challenge is compounded by the fact that people often don’t know how others see their assertiveness,” says Daniel Ames, a professor of management at Columbia and co-author of the new study.

Some results of the study show:

  • 57% of people actually seen by their counterpart as under-assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even over-assertive.
  • 56% of people actually seen by their counterpart as over-assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even under-assertive.

So now that we’ve got a 50/50 chance of falsely assessing our workplace behavior, what can you do to ensure you’re a more approachable but not a pushover boss?

Open up

Let employees and colleagues know your door is always open. Allow a safe space for honesty and ensure there will be no negative consequences for it.

Watch your body language

Maintain positive body language by sitting up straight and actively listening, smile and exercise welcoming posture by keeping your arms uncrossed.

Keep your emotions in check

Your employees need to know they can share information with you without causing an emotional response that may or may not be appropriate to the situation. Even if you’re frustrated or stressed, maintain a level expression of emotion which will save the moment and allow you time to consider what the productive next steps should be.

Listen

If you ask a question convinced you already know the answer, that will show and your employee will get frustrated knowing you’re not listening. Keep both ears open and be present in the conversation so your team will feel valued and offer feedback more frequently.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Why Working Around the Clock is Hurting Your Career

Creative Problem-Solving Fuel

Creative Problem-Solving Fuel

All too often, we let stress get the best of us. Suddenly workplace pressure goes beyond the walls of the workplace and impedes on our personal lives, as well. You might feel you need to stay on top of your work even off hours to stay competitive and empowered but there are some essential necessities to unplugging and relaxing a bit.

In general, play isn’t just important for kids to mold their imaginations and keep their energy buzzing; play should be an important part of every adult’s day. Here are some reasons getting in some playtime can actually improve your work performance when you get back there on Monday.

Creative Problem-Solving Fuel

Stepping outside of the ordinary box for recreational time can teach you a lesson or two, whether you know it or not. When there’s no goal to reach by the end of the day, you find yourself immersed in the experience, not the accomplishments. Suddenly you’re armed with a different perspective which can carry over to a more creative approach when facing job-related challenges.

Improvements in Mood and Well-being

This one is obvious but incredibly important. You’re no good to anyone or any job if you’re run down and frustrated. Allow those playtime endorphins to course through your veins whenever you can; it will keep you in a healthier, less stressed mental state when you’re back at your desk.

Enhanced Relationships and Social Empowerment

Meeting new people and sharing a few laughs when the heat is off can help you master it for when the heat is on. Networking is crucial in any career but if you always keep your head down and your mind on work, even on your own time, you’ll forget how to interact with people faster than you might expect. Plus you never know who you might meet at your neighbor’s brother’s friend’s barbeque; it could be someone with a lead on your dream job.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with your daily responsibilities and the pressures at work to stay competitive and competent but if you don’t allow for some personal time to kick back and get out of your goal-reaching mind, your actions are more counterproductive than good. Seek stress relief whenever possible and always surround yourself with good people and great laughs; it’ll improve your work performance 10-fold.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Too Social or Not Social Enough: How to Balance Your Workplace Connections

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Being too social at work can result in a lack of productivity, office distractions and drama. But being the lone wolf can result in missed opportunities, a lack of team building and negativity. So how do you keep a social balance in the workplace?

Mixing Business with Pleasure

There’s a time and a place for personal conversation while at work. Asking a coworker how their weekend was could be a quick and friendly way to engage before the week starts off, but it could also turn into a loud, long-lasting discussion about family drama or recent vacations.

Sharing too much personal information with coworkers can be inappropriate, especially if it’s not a lateral relationship, so be careful how much you divulge. But be sure to not cause consistent distractions to those around you or to yourself.

Social Media

In this technological age, being social at work can also mean being social online. Are you spending more time checking your Facebook likes and Tweeting about coworkers than you are actually putting in work time? Are you messaging your colleague 3 cubicles away about the lunch menu and how hard your boss has been on you? Not only can this be monitored and subsequently get you in trouble, your productivity level will speak for itself. Catch up on emails and chit chat during lunch breaks and make sure you’re staying focused on the job at hand the rest of the time.

Don’t Skip an Opportunity

Here’s where the real balance comes in. Say your office holds a mingle, an off-site after work social event or a special lunch celebration – are you partaking? You may not love dearly the people you work with, but office social events are a great excuse to actually share your personal side guilt-free. You’re not wasting the company’s time or money yet you’re team building with the peers you rely on 9-5. Taking part in the social opportunities may also introduce you to other team members of executives you didn’t know before and that could lead to other success possibilities.

Balance is Key

So you don’t want to share your life story while on the clock, cause tension between team members or create a massive office distraction, but you also don’t want to miss networking opportunities and chances to shine. Keep your social media use to a minimum while at work and share appropriate amounts at appropriate times and you’re sure to win the hearts and minds of your colleagues.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Are Your Work Habits Slowing You Down?

Not Being a Team Player

Not Being a Team Player

Nobody’s perfect and we all come chock full of our own personal bad habits. But what if your undesirable habits are piling up and creating a case against your work success?

If you think you might be committing some office faux pas and are interested in making some small steps to improvement, ask yourself if any of the following bad habits ring true for you:

Exaggerating the Truth

You may feel you need to “prove yourself” at work and talk up all of your achievements, but are you sure you’re being 100% honest? Misrepresenting your credentials, accomplishments, hours worked, or actively plagiarizing won’t bode well for you once coworkers and bosses start to catch on. If your teammate had a big win, did you take credit for it? Have you been misusing expense accounts? These are questions to ask yourself to ensure your integrity remains, because without it, your road to success will be a bumpy one.

Negativity

Are you the person in the office that constantly bats down ideas, talks about coworkers behind their backs and complains about the tasks you are assigned? If so, you’re contributing to a diminished office morale. Whether or not your colleagues recognize you immediately as a source, eventually it will become clear that the negative energy in the office is stemming from you. Not only will you lose the trust of your peers, you’ll lose the respect of your boss. When the time comes for a promotion, your negativity won’t get you ahead.

Not Being a Team Player

Networking with your colleagues, sharing ideas and working together on projects is an important way to grow, learn and get ahead. If you’re finding that you seclude yourself from group scenarios, avoid office social events or act too independently on your tasks, you’re sending some powerful signals to those around you. Those that aren’t team players tend to get less support when issues arise.

Here are some other bad habits to be on the lookout for:

  • Procrastination
  • Addiction to Facebook/social media
  • Inefficiency
  • Rudeness
  • Inattentiveness
  • Tardiness/Excessive Absence

If you find yourself guilty of more than just a few of these, you may want to consider what effect your behavior, whether unintentional or not, is having on your chances of success. You may think you’re getting away with your actions but it’s only a matter of time before they start holding you back.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

How to Create Win/Wins by Losing A Round

How to Create Win/Wins by Losing A Round

Win/Lose to Win/Win

Whether you’re at the executive level or strive to be someday, what I’m about to say might shock you. If you find yourself winning most workplace arguments, you might be setting yourself and your entire team back a bit.

We’ve all had a hand in starting or finishing an office argument, but what we may have missed in the heat of the moment was the importance of letting the “win” go in exchange for some new thoughts, perspectives and possibilities. Simply rejecting an idea because you think you know the answer isn’t forward progress.

Win/win arguments are where conflicting ideas are used with each other in a constructive manner as opposed to against each other in competition. These win/win arguments may be difficult to maintain, and certainly require a bit more time and focus than regular ol’ win/lose arguments, but their value far exceeds their burden.

Monkey See, Monkey Do
As a leader, it falls on you to create a positive, constructive argument environment. It’s important you head by example and show others that even with your authority and busy schedule, you can still take the time to be wrong and listen.
But to be a truly effective leader, you must not only engage in constructive arguments yourself but nurture a work environment where others are doing the same. This will pave the way for innovation and productive brainstorming all around the office.

Reward the Losing Side
Offering rewards to employees who exhibit a productive approach to workplace debate may sound a bit strange but let’s put some perspective on it. An employee who encourages constructive arguments and is willing to learn, even at the risk of being “wrong,” is a dynamic team player. This employee understands the importance of innovation and collaborative effort while respecting the ideas and opinions of others. So their reward doesn’t have to come in the form of an “employee of the month” acknowledgement, per se, but their respect for teamwork and knowledge are crucial factors to consider when you’re looking to promote within or select someone to spearhead a project.

Win/Lose to Win/Win
It’s easy to get caught up in a great debate in the workplace; with so many personalities, ideas and previous experience floating around in one space, there are sure to be steadfast opinions on any and all topics. But to turn the debate into an intelligent exchange where ideas can be shared and there’s no winner or loser is how companies and employees alike grow exponentially.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

5 Steps to Ease Difficult Conversations with Your Staff

1.Be Clear and Consistent

1. Be Clear and Consistent

Managing a team of varying personalities and characteristics can be challenging but communication is one of the most important ways to keep your employees happy and motivated. It can be difficult to ease tension with your staff sometimes but if you follow these steps, it should be a whole lot easier.

  1. Be Clear and Consistent

When you offer advice, explain the rules or provide instructions, be clear. Ambiguity is one of the most stressful things to occur in the workplace. Be consistent, also. If you’re always changing your story, you’ll add unneeded pressure to your employees because they’ll never know what it is you actually need from them.

  1. Be Fair

When there are conflicts among employees and you need to step in, handle with care and diplomacy. Sometimes conflict can be a matter of small misunderstandings and it might just be your job to stop it before it gets more serious than that.

  1. Listen

From an employee’s perspective, one of the most frustrating and de-motivating things that can happen at work is the boss just doesn’t listen. When someone’s trying to tell you something, hear them out and consider with genuine interest what it is they’re trying to express. They work in the trenches and might have important things to say about things you’re out of touch with.

  1. Ask Questions

Not only does asking questions show you care, it will also help you gain a new perspective. Sometimes reconnecting with the group is a necessary thing for the boss to do. Asking questions to make sure you know how things are going also opens the door for comfortable two-way communication in the future.

  1. Avoid Getting Too Personal

Having a friendly relationship with your employees is a good thing. But you want to avoid getting too personal, which includes disclosing too much information, asking for too much information and showing too much emotion. These things have the potential to cause a loss of respect and boundaries between you and them and thus all authority will cease to exist.

Open communication with your team is a key factor to overall business success but it can be difficult sometimes. You’re busy and up against your own deadlines, taking the necessary time for proper communication just doesn’t fit into your schedule. But spending some time to implement these 5 steps can turn it all around for both you and your employees.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Why Dress Codes Work and How To Establish The Rules

office dress code

Create an Environment of Professionalism

Dress codes in the office are not uncommon.  Establishing wardrobe guidelines is a simple and effective way to shape your company’s image which projects onto you, your business partners and your customers.

While the definition of “appropriate dress” may depend on the nature of your industry, the fact remains that what you wear sends a message about your commitment and professionalism. Here are some ways you can begin to construct and implement guidelines.

Establish Clear Expectations

A known and easily identifiable cause of career stress is job ambiguity, and yes, that trickles down to wardrobe. If your office tends to lean casually on the day-to-day but you prefer employees spruce it up for business meetings, it’s important that you establish that guideline outright. Make clear what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. Sharing a written policy will eliminate guessing games about what it will take for employees fit in around the office.

Create an Environment of Professionalism

Appropriate dress is most commonly associated with first impressions and overall perception of professionalism.  You want your company to stand out as distinct and trustworthy and the way your employees are presented carries that message.

Beyond first impressions, studies have shown inappropriate dress can dampen productivity as well as create an office distraction. Don’t let these minor intrusions negatively impact your company’s performance.

Lead By Example

To support the clear boundaries and expectations you’ve outlined, it’s important you act the part. As an employer, you may face pushback from employees who will argue their right to dress and groom as they deem appropriate. That’s one reason it’s important for you to set the tone. Lead by example and dress by your own standards. If you raise the bar with your own actions, it will be difficult for your reports to ignore.

Here are some other items to consider while developing your company’s dress code:

  • Seek employee input to ensure the general consensus is that your rules are fair. This might also decrease the policy pushback you receive once enforced.
  • Keep restraints reasonable and in line with industry standards, not your own personal preferences.
  • Keep the policy simple and to the point. Anything overly complicated will make it difficult to understand and comply.
  • Ensure you’re not treating one gender, religion, race or individual less favorably than the rest.
  • Allow a reasonable frame of time for employees to execute final changes.

A dress code doesn’t have to be complex or strict, but setting guidelines for appropriate appearances in the office will help everyone. Giving your employees an opportunity to clearly understand your expectations while leading by example will positively mold your company’s image in the eyes of current and future customers.

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Do you need to set policy around dress codes or other initiatives? My executive coaching services can help you hone your message and set clear guidelines to achieve your goals and objectives. Also offering Corporate Coaching for Organizations

How To Keep Your Employees Motivated

Don’t Hog the Credit

Don’t Hog the Credit

If you’re running a business or managing a team, you undoubtedly have plenty to keep you busy. Competition, consumer needs and P&L’s are all important, but so is employee retention. Guiding office morale directly impacts your bottom line and company productivity. Here are a few ways to keep your employees motivated, loyal and productive.

  1. It’s Simple: Be Kind

They say you catch more flies with honey than vinegar and being in a position of power doesn’t make that any less true. People need respect, whether they work above you, with you or below you. Use polite language and be respectful of their time to cultivate a welcoming and positive environment.

  1. Don’t Hog the Credit

Positive reinforcement is great encouragement. Never let a job well done slip by without a pat on the back or even public recognition every now and again. Team work is important and encouraging individual contributions can enhance the overall process and, even better, the output.

  1. Offer Job-Retention Incentives

This includes everything from bonuses to amenities, perks and benefits. Sure, not every company can afford Google-level amenities; opening a gym or daycare center in your office might be a stretch. But financial incentives, casual Fridays, extra-curricular social events and midday complimentary snacks to keep office energy high are small steps that can improve morale.

  1. Keep Communication Flowing 

Communication is a key foundation to any relationship; business relationships are no exception. Engaging with each employee to keep the lines of communication open both ways is vital to successful interaction. It is your job to be consistently transparent about performance expectations so that everyone knows what is expected. Another important step is making sure your employees feel comfortable coming to you to discuss their career goals and concerns.

  1. Encourage Fun

What’s that saying about all work and no play? While it’s necessary to establish boundaries, making work fun can get the creative juices flowing. Productivity is known to spike when people are enjoying themselves.

Motivating your employees keeps them happy and less inclined to leave. Happy employees stay busy. Give your team gifts of acknowledgment, appreciation and freedom and you’ll get that back tenfold in productivity. And don’t forget: never under estimate the power of a 3pm snack cart rolling past your desk.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.