One strategy in The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is to build teams through One Minute Praisings.

The idea is simple. Be alert to the efforts and work going on around you. As you notice good things happening, say so. The authors call it “catching someone doing something right.”

I have discussed this idea with many others who have read the book. Most of them had the same reaction: “I don’t praise as much as I should.”

When asked why, the responses varied:

  • “I don’t want them to think I’m just blowing smoke.”
  • “If I praise them too much, they might let up on their efforts.”
  • The cynics said: “We pay them to do a good job. I reserve praise for the exceptional things.”

I have a variety of thoughts regarding these obstacles:

  • “If you aren’t blowing smoke, it won’t be taken that way.” The authors advise us to be specific when we praise. When you notice a particular behavior that is praiseworthy, comment on it. Being specific makes the praise more authentic. It’s not blowing smoke.
  • Authentic praise is never out of season. The fear of praising someone into a “demotivated state” doesn’t stand the test. One of our colleagues sent me a quote yesterday that underscores this: “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.” I’ve found that to be true. Authentic praise frequently delivered inspires connection. You can’t lose by ramping up your frequency of praise.
  • If you hold a reserve on praising others, you will get fewer of the activities you find worthy of praise. If you believe national statistics, most companies have three out of four employees who don’t care much about the job. They do as much as necessary and as little as possible. Is that because we have leaders who don’t work hard at expressing praise and appreciation? I think ramping up praises will build up the commitment level of everyone. Committed folks do what it takes to win in the marketplace. They go the extra mile.

We have challenged every leader to model good praising. We are asking you to become more alert, notice the good work that is going on around you and say so when you see it. We will win as a result.