When People Are Doing a Good Job, Tell Them
I once had a boss who never gave compliments.
At the time, it was something of a dream job, and I wanted nothing more than to please her, to be told that I was doing a good job. I wanted to be acknowledged for the time, work, and effort I was putting into my position. To know if I should be doing something different or better. I didn’t want praise that I didn’t earn — but it would’ve helped me get feedback. Any feedback.
While at the position, a colleague of hers told me that she never gave compliments, that she wasn’t wired that way. That you could be doing an outstanding job, and she would often keep her admiration to herself. It wasn’t deliberately hurtful or malicious; it was just her personality.
What job I had isn’t essential to this story.
Who my boss was isn’t essential to this story, either.
What is important is the lesson I learned along the way — when they’re doing a good job, a person needs to hear that.
Whether it be your employees, colleagues, children, spouse, friends, family members, or staff, withholding praise from others is counterproductive. It’s not helping them get better at their jobs; it’s not strengthening the relationship that the two of you have; it’s not making people work any harder at their jobs, either.
All it does is make people feel as if they aren’t valued.
All it does is make people feel as if they are inconsequential to whatever they are doing.
All it does is make people resent the job or task at hand.
Nobody wants praise for something that they didn’t do, for work that is mediocre or not up to par. Nobody wants to be coddled or patted on the head as if they were a child who didn’t understand the situation. But when people meet and exceed expectations, it would be nice to be told that they are doing so, for hearing those words makes a difference.
It makes people feel seen.
Let your employees know that you see the work that they are doing. Let your children know that you see and are proud of how hard they are working. Let your spouse and your partner, and your loved ones know that you are in awe of all they do — even if you think it’s redundant. Even if you think they already know. People will not know these things unless you tell them, and you should tell them.
Tell them so that they understand that the work they’re doing matters.
Tell them so that they see that they are valued.
Tell them so that they know that they are not inconsequential and not taken for granted. Tell them so that they are confident in the direction that they are headed. Tell them so that they can improve where they need to, and change what they need to, and work in a way that gets them closer to whatever goal or dream or achievement that holds their energy, their time, and their focus.
Appreciation is not something to hold close to the vest, but rather something to give and share as much as you can, whenever you can.