Paying Compliments - As
Vital as Paying Salaries
Years ago, when I was new in management circles, a veteran administrator decided to share his self-described "secret of success." "You have to be careful, Bill," he cautioned. "I've learned not to compliment my people. Makes them too self-assured, and they get lax in their work habits. Better to keep them guessing."
As I listened, I uttered silent thanks, grateful that Don was a professional acquaintance --and not my boss. Both intuitively and from experience, I knew that CEOs build loyalty when they celebrate their employees' successes with compliments. Paying compliments is as vital as paying salaries.
To use a familiar analogy, criticism has the same impact on people that salt does on plants. Stated positively, compliments act as nutrients for people, just as fertilizer does for flowers. Having played golf for several decades, I remember the teaching professionals who helped me the least -- and the most. The least helpful were those who spent the whole half hour describing my faults: "bending your left arm" . . ."not enough weight shift" . . . "tempo is too fast." Jim, my favorite pro, accents the positives: "swinging better than last time" . . . "hit that shot really square" . . . "now that's the way to finish in balance." Not surprisingly, I wanted to swing better for Jim.
When I think of compliments, I remember my father's advice. For forty years, he managed a sizable department store. When I took my first supervisory position in higher education, he counseled me: "Bill, one thing I have learned is that workers perform better when we let them know we appreciate their performance. Remember to commend those who do well. Then they'll keep improving."
During the twenty-three years I spent as an executive, I followed his recommendation. Even a simple comment -- "You did a good job drafting those letters" -- boosted morale and cultivated organizational loyalty.
As a communication specialist, there are several tips I will share about using compliments.
Yes, compliments can be chancy. Some employees might accuse us of playing favorites, being too syrupy, or trying to win favor for our hidden agendas. Risky, that's true . . . but worth the risk.
When you become known for offering genuine, realistic compliments in moderation, at the right time, and in the proper setting, you'll notice your employees responding positively. In fact, they will compliment you for your thoughtfulness and encouragement.
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., President of Championship Communication, helps organizations experience CPR - Cooperation, Productivity, Renewal of Mission! He wrote The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! E-mail him: drbill@BillLampton.com and check his Web site for descriptions of his speeches and seminars: www.BillLampton.com .Call him at 800-393-0114 or 770-534-3425.
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