A friend of mine who holds a senior position in a large organisation told me this story:
“I had been away from my wife and three children for a week and was really looking forward to bursting in through the front door and seeing their faces light up.
I put my key in the lock and turned it. As I walked into the kitchen the dog went mad, barking and running up to me enthusiastically, tail wagging so hard it almost pulled him off his feet… just the welcome I was expecting.
Then I looked over to the kitchen table were the family was having their dinner. “Hi, dad,” came the greeting and then all went back to their meal.
I was a bit miffed about this. After all, I’d been away all week and all I got was a ‘Hi, dad’!
I sloped off to the shower, got changed and joined the family for the rest of the meal.
Later that evening after the children went off to bed I explained to my wife how I felt. “I can’t believe,” I said, “That the dog was so happy to see me, but you guys didn’t seem that bothered.”
My wife looked at me witheringly and shook her head. “Well, we’ll greet you in the same way when you’re as good as the dog thinks you are!” “
Praise is certainly a good thing in a business.
The issue is that false praise is as damaging as no praise at all – to praise someone just because you think you should means that you are firing blanks next time you want to give a staff member a motivational shot!
In turn, this means that to use praise as a motivator you must catch your people doing something right – and tell them that they doing so.