How To Give Praise, Criticism & Correction

How to give praise, criticism & correction

How to give praise, criticism & correction

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the secrets to giving effective and transformational praise, criticism and correction, and, how to apply them at home and at the office.

First a quick update:

“Tom Fairy tale divorce? Why Tom Cruise is portrayed as the evil villain and Katie Holmes the fair princess”
Read my comments about the way women believe that they know better than men about how to raise children

Now, let’s talk about how to give effective and transformational praise, criticism and correction, and, how to apply them at home and at the office

The following are principles and strategies that I teach to corporations (CEOs, executives, etc.) but which, can also be applied to a family setting, for parents.

Although it may sound overly simplistic, our behavior is often motivated by The Pain and Pleasure Principle: We move away from pain and towards pleasure. And change occurs when the scales tip, and pain associated with our present state, job or relationship becomes too great to bear and we foresee pleasure by making a change. The fear of pain can also motivate us to take action.

However, the greatest and most powerful motivators and boosters of morale are praise and recognition.

Earned Praise and Compliments
Contrary to popular belief, money is not what motivates employees the most nor is it the only reason people show up to work. One of the major causes of depression in men is loss of work because it also creates a sense of loss of purpose, meaning, significance, contribution and the ability to produce. Read my article “Depression in men”.

Mary Kay Ash who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics, the cosmetics empire that helped to empower and inspire millions of women, said “There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.”

And she is correct: we all need to feel needed and appreciated; praise and recognition cannot be bought.

In a group dynamic, recognition and praise lead to feelings of significance, security, connection, unity, purpose, a sense of belonging, self-satisfaction and fulfillment. Read my article “Power & Praise”.

The best way to give earned praise is in public i.e. in front of others.

  1. Seek out people to be praised
    We often look for and easily notice what has gone wrong or has been executed poorly. And those areas need addressing. However, on a daily basis, look for what good has been done or achieved and who has done it or contributed to it.
  2. Write it out
    You get more of what you focus on; focus on the good and make a written note of it.
  3. Select the opportunity
    Plan to praise the employee in front of the team; let everyone hear the recognition and praise for it creates an environment where the team is clearly aware that accomplishments, achievements and hard work are noticed, recognized, appreciated and rewarded. Public appreciation also motivates the entire team to achieve and produce because they, too, will seek out the praise and recognition. If the employee might be embarrassed by public praise, do so in private and/or give written praise.
  4. Be sincere and genuine
    Only give the praise when you believe it is warranted
  5. Sixty seconds
    Express the appreciation and give out the praise in less than sixty seconds; keep it brief and to the point
  6. Highlight the qualities not just the result
    Compliment him/her on a job well done but be specific and focus on the qualities and skills he/she expressed and demonstrated; affirm his/her strengths and the result of the success i.e. instead of simply saying “I love the new designs”, mention what it took to create the designs “I love the new designs – the creativity, thought, effort, dedication, attention to detail and presentation are superb. The client has approved them. Your cooperative spirit and your ability to always deliver on time are inspiring.” You have now also created the belief and expectation for this person that he/she ‘always’ delivers on time and has a ‘cooperative spirit’, and consequently he/she will live up to those expectations and continue to build on that behavior.
  7. Do it sincerely, smiling and with pride
    Unless the project is of such a magnitude that a meeting of the entire team is necessary, give the praise to the recipient in front of others but do not be patronizing. Do not include or mix criticism.
  8. Reaffirm his/her value
    Complete the praise by sincerely saying “You are an asset to our company” or something similar.

Mistakes call for correction, not punishment
A manager is a problem solver, leader, driver, guide, inspiration, example, encourager, and role model. When mistakes are made, action is required but punishment does not automatically lead to rehabilitation nor does it result in encouraging, empowering, leading or building up an individual, team or department.

Punishment often leads to discouragement, dejection, rejection, apathy, bitterness and resentment; it rarely motivates someone to better him/herself. However, the fear of the punishment may motivate some people, and yes, at times, punishment is necessary. The motivation behind the punishment is also critical to the result. Ensure that punishment not be driven by anger, revenge, frustration or blame.

If the gravity of the situation warrants it, a dismissal or removal from the position or responsibility may be necessary if the person is not sufficiently prepared or skilled to perform the task/job.

However, mistakes always call for correction to prevent a repeat, and require action to re-build the person mentally, emotionally and physically by incorporating skills, knowledge, training, support, belief, purpose and vision.

Criticism, correction and redirection
Unlike praise which is always best given in public, criticism, correction and redirection should always be done in private.

  1. Emotional state & mindset
    Become aware of your emotional state first – are you calm, centered, open, and in control of your emotions? Be aware of your voice tonality and body language – is your voice calm, authoritative, warm or is it angry and threatening? Is your body language open or threatening? Set your objective and tone for the meeting. What result do you want?
  2. Significance
    Explain and outline how and why the employee/team member is important to the company i.e. his/her role, responsibilities, qualities, contribution and significance
  3. Surprise
    Express your shock, surprise and disbelief at what has happened and that he/she actually did or may have done the said act; acknowledge your feelings of disappointment or anger without reacting to those feelings; list the consequences to the company of the person’s behavior
  4. Explanation
    Give him/her the opportunity to briefly explain why he/she may have done it (this may lead to his/her opening up and revealing to you something you may not have wanted to hear but, which you need to know about his/her personal life or a situation within the company/team); you might begin by saying: “What can you tell me about what happened?”
  5. Expectation
    Make it clear and known that you do not want a repeat of this
  6. Solution
    Offer solution or relevant training. “How can I help? What do you need?”
  7. Affirmation & Expectation
    Reiterate how important he/she is to the company, and what your realistic and measurable expectations of him/her are; use your tone of voice to instill enthusiasm, confidence, belief and expectancy of success.

The objective is for your team member to transform his/her behavior and thus leave your office feeling better that when he/she first entered.

A successful manager/leader will ensure that her team member feels:

  • Understood
  • Fairly treated
  • Significant and needed
  • Appreciated
  • An integral part of the team/department and company
  • Positive (confident, secure and supported)
  • Motivated to do better and give his/her best

With strategies of productive praise and constructive criticism, people at work or at home can be validated, inspired and directed to change and improve themselves.

Learn more about my customized training programs here.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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