Catch Them Doing Something Right

Dear Jean:

On my last performance appraisal, my boss told me I need to give recognition to my staff.  I’m not exactly sure what he meant.  I explained that my staff members know perfectly well when they are not up to par.  I don’t have the need or desire to get all mushy and give people standing ovations for doing their jobs correctly. That’s what they get paid to do.

My boss thinks differently, and I can tell you right now that frothy emotional displays are not for me.  How can I do what my boss wants and not compromise my values?


If this is really important to your boss, my best advice is to explore a way that fits your values.  In the old yet classic, popular book, The One Minute Manager, we learn to “catch” people doing things right and praise them for it.

I’ll adapt this concept to fit your particular style:

Catch one of your employees doing something above and beyond the call of duty.  Describe the performance or behavior you are recognizing and be clear on why you are recognizing it.  Express your appreciation and then say thank you.  That’s all there is to it.

This will be hard for you at first.  Most likely you and your boss have a different idea about what constitutes “above and beyond the call of duty.”  Be sure to discuss this with him so both of you are in agreement as to which kinds of behaviors you want to recognize.

Remember – the performance that you praise is the performance that will be repeated.

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