What is Ten Seconds of Praise Worth?

“Hey, I just wanted to let you know you did an amazing job on that project. Can’t begin to tell you how glad we are to have you on our team.”

The encouragement above takes about ten seconds to speak out loud. It communicates to an employee, “Your work is noticed. You are important to us. We value what you do. We don’t want you to even think about going anywhere else.”

Comments such as these provide incentive that money cannot buy. They feed an employee’s motivation. There is nothing that demotivates faster than working yourself to death only to hear crickets. Nothing crushes an employee’s spirit faster than shooting down every idea he or she proposes. Eventually, the un-praised or shut down employee just stops talking and some day, they will leave.

When an employee leaves, the costs to an organization can be staggering. According to Boushey and Glenn, “30 case studies taken from the 11 most-relevant research papers on the costs of employee turnover demonstrate that it costs businesses about one-fifth of a worker’s salary to replace that worker.”

You may think, “Well, if an employee is not assertive enough to be heard, then we don’t need them around here anyway.” Here’s the problem. It may be that the one who needs to examine levels of assertiveness is you. An over assertive manager can devastate the morale of any employee.

Choose your battles wisely. Even if you don’t like an employee’s recommendation, think carefully about your response before you shoot them down — especially in front of others. If a decision doesn’t affect outcome substantially, allow employees to put their own fingerprints on decisions. If you do not show trust in small decisions, how can you expect them to risk wading into the deeper waters of creativity?

The point is: a little bit of praise goes a long way. Don’t let a paycheck be your only means of sending an encouraging message to your employees. Loyal employees only partially work for income. Loyal employees work for you, for your organization, for a cause they embrace as greater than them.

Now get out there and see what a difference ten seconds of praise can make!

Merry Christmas from SGR!!!


Greg Anderson
Written by:
Greg Anderson
President of Online Learning, Strategic Government Resources
Follow Greg on Twitter!@SGRGreg

2 responses

  1. When a plant is ignored and not watered, it wilts and dies. When a baby is ignored it also wilts and will actually die. This is called “failure to thrive”. When employees are ignored, they will wilt and psychologically die.
    I like to be a cheerleader. I praise and encourage people all day every day. What is amazing is the number of people that I run into 10,15, 20 years later who will remind me of one sentence that I said to them that they remember and thank me for years later. You are correct that it is amazing how powerful just a few positive words can be to some people.

    1. Great analogies, David!

      Every living thing needs to be nurtured to thrive, so leaders should not ignore that fact in the workplace.

      And those few encouraging words really do stick with those that need it at the time.

      Thanks for the comment.

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