Give Effective Praise to Become a Better Collaborator and Leader

By Chelsea Babin

When it comes to teamwork, there is nothing more bonding than some positive, effective praise. Whether you’re looking to become a better collaborator or move into a leadership role, learning how to effectively praise your peers or those you’re leading can be an invaluable tool for your career. Why? Effective praise is valuable for several reasons.

1. Attention: When someone feels like their efforts are being ignored, they’re less likely to try as hard the next time. Shining the light on a job well done through affective praise shows that you’re paying attention to their contribution and that you’re aware of the value they bring to the team.

2. Appreciation: Attention in and of itself isn’t enough, that’s where the positivity of praise steps in to save the day! Through positive praise you’re not just acknowledging that someone else has made the effort, you’re pointing out the things they’re doing well. This reassuring move can boost someone’s confidence instantly and when your teammate feels appreciated, they will continue to move in the right direction.

3. Bonds: You can’t collaborate with or lead a team that is disjointed and distant. Forming bonds is an important element of effective leadership and effective collaboration, and positive praise can help solidify those bonds.

Yes, effective praise is kind of a big deal and can take your team from a disjointed mess to a communicative success! But how do you make the distinction between effective praise and ineffective praise? How do you make sure that the praise you’re giving is worthwhile and well received? Follow these tips for a little more clarity on what makes praise truly effective.

1. Give praise during the process, not after: It’s easy to deflect to giving praise for a job well done once it’s—well—done. But if you want to give truly effective praise, it’s best to notice the positive efforts of your team member or collaborator while they’re still making the efforts. This will ramp up their enthusiasm in the further pursuit of their goals and it will keep them more open to suggestions or criticism if they’re required later on.

2. Don’t use praise to soften a blow: While it may make you feel better to praise someone before, after, or both before and after you deliver a criticism, this praise won’t truly be absorbed. No matter how sweetly you sing their praises, your team member or collaborator will either ignore the praise or ignore the criticism when they’re placed together. The mixing of the two makes both less effective and, despite what you think, doesn’t really make the situation more comfortable for either of you. Instead, deliver criticism swiftly so that changes can be made and delivery positive praise when you see positive efforts. Giving them their own space and time will make both communications more effective.

3. Factor in experience level: Effective praise doesn’t always mean frequent praise, especially if you’re leading or collaborating with a more senior level coworker. When someone is just starting out or starting a new task they’ve never done before, they’ll need more of your praise because they’ll use it as a path to determine which way is the best way to go. When someone has more experience, you could risk sounding condescending if you over praise or frequently praise things they’ve done a million times before.

Communication is one of the most important elements of any collaboration or leadership experience. In order to maintain happy relationships with your team, you’ll need to utilize effective praise along the way. Use these tips to help guide you on the rocky road between ineffective praise, effective praise, and everything in between.