As a leader, it is imperatively important to offer your team consistent feedback – not only in times of improvement but also in times of praise. One of the largest complaints of employees is not hearing anything positive when they are doing their job well, only criticism when things are going wrong. Enter the constructive compliment.
So, what are constructive compliments? A constructive compliment is cultivated, compelling, directive, and ultimately encourages positive behaviours.
When you give people credit for what they do well, it increases productivity and morale throughout your entire team. As a leader, it is important to recognize when your ship is sailing through smooth waters because of your team’s hard work. While hard work is expected in any environment, it is still important to recognize the hard work your team invests in your business. Everyone deserves a pat on the back when they are doing a job well done. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton
So how do you go about offering constructive compliments of value?
When you give a compliment to someone it should never be vague. You cannot expect to give a standby, “Good job!” and call it a day. Instead, take the time to let them know what the things they did to warrant your praise. Here are a few key points to make sure you are delivering constructive compliments sincerely:
- Use positive words – great, wonderful, excellent, fantastic, etc.
- Cite specific points of what they did well
- Acknowledge the outcome of what they did
- Genuinely thank them
In practice, it might sound something along the lines of, “Barbara, thank you for all of your outstanding work on the Jones proposal. I really appreciate the research you did to include specific data to back up your points. There is no doubt in my mind that your presentation will result in our firm signing the Jones account. Again, thank you so much for all of your due diligence and hard work.”
Don’t Mix In Criticism
It is important that when you are giving a constructive compliment that you avoid adding in any negative commentary. Even if there are improvements that need to be made, it is imperative that you separate the two. That is not to say that in the same meeting you cannot offer corrective feedback, but when you allow a constructive compliment to stand alone it has a more powerful effect.
As Dale Carnegie noted in How To Win Friends and Influence People, including criticism in your compliment can detract from your overall point. His biggest piece of advice to make sure you avoid this faux pas is to refrain from using the word “But.”
“Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word ‘but’ and ending with a critical statement,” he wrote. “For example, in trying to change a child’s careless attitude toward studies, we might say, “We’re really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term. But if you had worked harder on your algebra, the results would have been better. In this case, Johnnie might feel encouraged until he heard the word ‘but.’ He might then question the sincerity of the original praise.”
Put It In Writing
Anytime you give verbal constructive compliments, you can, and should, also choose to put it in wiring via email, or even a handwritten note. The written form makes a greater impact and creates a personal touch that lasts.
Make It Public
There is an old saying, “Praise in public, correct in private.” Constructive compliments Have an even greater power when given in public settings, whether that be a staff meeting or even a company-wide meeting. When you offer praise publicly it solidifies the sincerity of what you are saying for the recipient.
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“The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.” – Dale Carnegie