Do you perform better with encouragement?  So do your people. Think of encouragement as a gift you give to bring out the best in others.

As a manager, think of your last interaction with a member of your team, take a moment to reflect on how you made the other person feel. Did you leave them feeling terrific about themselves or demotivated about their shortcomings?

If you ring Emma on your team later today, how will she feel about herself at the end of the call? From time to time it should feel like Christmas day. When you help people to feel capable, confident and strong, they become more creative and more engaged. You strengthen their determination and unlock their discretionary effort.

Encouragement literally means to ‘put courage in’, discouragement means to ‘take courage out’.

Encouragement motivates. A few simple words such as ‘stay strong’ or ‘you love a challenge’ or ‘speak well’ (before a presentation) can strengthen and re-energise the person you are talking to.

Make your people feel special

What we’re saying here is use psychological pay cheques – appreciation, supportive feedback and praise.

Leadership writer John Maxwell relates that when growing up he often went into his father’s office and on a card by the phone were the words ‘Build people up by encouragement’. It was one of the reasons that inspired his career.

Richard Branson, who always excels at the basics, says: ‘As a leader of people you have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people’. So look around your office. Who can you catch doing something right?

As leaders most of us underestimate the impact our approval has on others in the team.

‘Correction does much, but encouragement does more.’ Goethe

If you make people feel special you will end up with a special team. Here are some more great phrases you can use – highlight them in your leadership and management training:

“The thing I like about you is …”  

“I’ve been thinking about your strengths”  

“What impresses me most about you is …”

Such phrases will energise and inspire those around you – and be sure to recognise both exceptional individual contribution as well as teamwork. It goes without saying that sincerity is essential.

Let the people around you know how important they are. The leader’s job is to make heroes not be one.

Simply saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ more can make a big difference. Few things are more powerful than a genuine ‘Thank you’.

Give praise correctly

Take care when giving praise. All too often if you say to someone ‘you did a good job’ and although they may feel pleased with that comment, they don’t know what has pleased you in particular and what the overall benefit is.

Sometimes if you tell someone they did a ‘good job’, they may consider the praise is relevant to their whole performance when you may have a concern about a separate aspect of their work.

We are not suggesting you praise people all the time – just more frequently. You also still work on weak points but not to the point where it breaks their spirit down.

The three step RSO model for giving praise:

These steps give you a solid framework:

Step 1: REFER to the situation deserving praise

Step 2: Highlight the SPECIFIC skill or personal quality used

Step 3: Explain the OVERALL benefit

This structure is useful because we want the person to know exactly why they are being praised.

1. REFER first of all to the situation deserving praise. Does the person know exactly what situation we are referring to? Eg:“It’s good to see you have cleared the backlog” or “I like the way you handled the ABC visitors.”

2. Highlight SPECIFIC skill or personal quality used. What specifically did he or she do well? Did they use any particular skill or personal attribute? Eg: “I particularly appreciate how you tackled the new website. It demanded a great deal of persistence.” or: “You presented yourself very well and controlled the question and answer sessions with considerable skill.”

3. Explain the OVERALL benefit. Does the person know the benefits of his actions? Eg: “Which means that our department have exceeded target by 20% and we will be highlighted in the company news update.” or: “They now completely understand the benefits of our system and see us as the leader in our field.”

Above all, always keep your feedback motivational by letting your people know you believe in them. Every interaction you have has the potential to be a high point or a low point in someone’s day.

Learn more about LDL management development

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