It is important for leaders to accurately assess the performance of their team members. If performance is below what is expected, a servant leader will meet with the team member to share that feedback. They will then re-clarify expectations, make sure that they are understood, offer additional coaching and end by assuring that the individual is a valued member of the team.
When team members perform well. their leaders should praise them for their work. Three things to keep in mind about praising your team members are that the praise must be:
- Sincere. I enjoyed walking around daily to see my team members. This was every bit as much about building and maintaining positive relationships as it was about specific work issues. However, if there was something positive that I could say about a team member’s performance, I would take the opportunity to do so face to face. I needed to be sincere about the praise, and not just tell them that they are doing a great job. If I did that all of the time it would lose meaning.
- Specific. Instead of telling a team member that they are doing a great job, you need to be specific, such as telling them that they did an excellent job with the presentation they made in the meeting that day, or with the report that you just read. Be as specific as possible when you praise your team members.
- Timely. Give your team members praise as soon as possible. In the examples above, give the positive feedback the same day (if possible) after the meeting in which they delivered the presentation or the day you read the report they prepared. Giving praise two weeks afterwards when you have your regular scheduled meeting with them will lose the impact of your kind words about their accomplishment.
For the greatest impact, sincere, specific and timely praise is best delivered face to face. However, with some team members in remote locations or working from home, this may not always be possible. In those instances, a phone call, Skype meeting or email will work.
Many times, when I would receive positive feedback for a team member via email, I would forward it to my leader, who would then forward it to the team member along with their appreciation for their good work. But the best example of giving praise that I saw in my nearly 38-year career was from Dan. He kept a supply of cards (congratulations, thank you, etc.) in his desk. When he would receive word of a job well done by a member of his function, he would hand write out a card, put it in an envelope and send it to the employee, or even hand carry it to their desk. As I would walk around our function, I would often see these cards proudly displayed in the employee’s work area. Getting a handwritten card from their second-level leader meant a great deal from those who received them.
What are some best practices you use for giving praise to your team members?