Recognize an Employee’s Good Work by Asking How They Pulled It Off

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

Employees want to feel appreciated, but a simple “Great job!” isn’t always motivating — especially if you say it all the time. When you want to praise someone for their work on a project, try being curious about how they pulled it off.

o You might say something like, “That was really impressive. Will you tell me how you did it?” By showing interest in the story behind the accomplishment, you honor the results as well as the person who reached them.

o You also get a view into how the person solves problems, what parts of the work they love, and what makes them feel proud — insights that can be helpful when making assignments.

o And if the employee suffered any personal costs during the work, acknowledge the toll it took.

Whether they gave up time with family or bore the political risks of a highly visible project, talking about the costs will encourage the person to be honest with you in the future.

Adapted from “What Not to Do When You’re Trying to Motivate Your Team,” by Ron Carucci

Here’s a direct link to dozens of other Management Tips.


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