Jerks At Work Are Rarely A Success: It’s almost common knowledge that leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates ran their companies with an iron fist. Unfortunately, these leaders are unicorns and not the norm. And as exceptions go, statistically it’s not what works in most cases or for most people.
While we tend to revere anomalies like billionaires, super-models, and A-list celebrities – we know that what makes them successful isn’t likely to work for most. To use fitness as an example, if any of us were to follow an Arnold Schwarzenegger approach to building our ideal body, it’s likely we’d end up at the hospital full of injuries. While it works to study the outliers, it’s also helpful to look at what statistically works time and time again.
The Research Is Clear – Positivity At Work Increases Productivity
According to Gallup’s research of over four million employees worldwide, a work culture of affirmation and celebration boosts productivity. Along with that Gallup also found that employees who receive regular recognition will; be more engaging with co-workers, have a strong loyalty to their employer, have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job, and will be more enthusiastic at work.
Now that is quite the incentive to celebrate your staff, praise their work, and put an emphasis on celebrating your team.
If you’re sold on the effectiveness of using praise, let’s dive into how to boost the morale of your staff.
Increases Productivity Without Spending Dime
Straight out of the most prestigious couple’s research ever done, Drs. John & Julie Gottman, along with the University of Washington, found that the happiest couples have a peculiar imbalance. It’s this unusual characteristic that sets happily married couples apart from the ones on the verge of divorce. And it’s this same behavior that will improve your work life.
Now, I know I’m talking about intimate relationships and not work ones – but I’m sure you’ll agree that all great relationships share certain similarities. Your staff just like anyone, responds to how they’re treated and feels best when they are valued. So, let’s look at the Gottman’s research and see how it can be applied to your work.
After intensively studying over 3,000 couples and over twenty-five years of research, the Gottman’s discovered that successful couples have what is known as the 5 to 1 ratio. In short, this means that happy couples say five positive things for every criticism or negative statement made. So, if you follow the science and want to use it to your benefit – every time you say something that hurts or injures your partner – you can counteract the harm by praising and celebrating your partner with words of affirmation.
Following that same line of thought, by using more positive statements with your co-workers and staff – you’ll boost morale at work and enhance the relationship with your team. And if that’s not enough incentive to use more verbal praise at work, home, and everywhere you go – take a look at this research that shows employees value recognition more than money. Despite the going consensus that more money equals more joy at work, the data says that feeling valued is essential to happiness on the job.
How To Give Praise At Work
At first, it may feel almost foreign to live up to the 5:1 ratio with your staff or co-workers. But over time, it’ll become more natural, and you’ll notice it makes a difference. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that company culture is incredibly significant to staff morale and productivity – and it’s up to the leaders to set the tone.
If you’re looking for more ways to add praise to your work culture, try out some of these suggestions:
When someone at work does something great for the company – tell them. Make it a point to acknowledge them with words, so they know you value their work and efforts.
If someone does something small that makes a difference, verbally acknowledge that person’s work. By noticing the small stuff, employees and co-workers will feel more motivated to tackle the big things – and all large projects are just a bunch of little things.
If a co-worker offered a great idea, tell them publicly you appreciate their share.
When someone at work contributes to the team, thank them and praise them verbally for it.
If someone fixes a problem without being asked – acknowledge it verbally or simply via email.
Start work meetings with words of affirmation and ask your team also to share something positive about someone at work. If this is new, be the first one to give praise so that everyone else feels your influence and follows your lead.
A Few More Ways To Praise Your Team
Along with injecting more verbal praise, you can also try these other methods.
If a team member does something small and you see it – send them a little email and let them know.
Offer your team a celebration lunch or event to let them know they’ve done an excellent job.
Give out a gift card on birthdays or special days.
Randomly give out a small present or letter of recognition.
If someone on your team is taking on a lot of work, offer to take some of it off their plate.
Have a staff meeting offsite and let the team know it’s because you want to celebrate their great work.
Bring in a specialist to give a training that the team has wanted and let them know you’re doing it because they’ve been so great.
Acknowledge The Unsung Heroes
In Gallup’s research of over 10,000 companies, they found that to have high performance all around, it’s important to acknowledge everyone on your team. Here’s how they put it: “Create heroes in every role. Make sure every role performed at a level of excellence is treated as a respected profession.” The people who do simple and repetitive tasks are often overlooked, but their contribution matters too.
By giving compliments and acknowledging even the work of the low man on the totem pole, you boost the morale of the whole team.
Like the famous biographer and management professor, Steve Sutton, it’s my hope that this article inspires you to bring more positivity and praise to your work. Don’t be fooled by the headlines of famous Silicon Valley execs who lead by being jerks, but instead, look at the data and endless examples of companies that use positivity and praise to grow their business.
Written by Luis Congdon.
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