In praise of praise

I have just read a couple of interesting blog posts here  and here which talk about about the importance of praise and recognition in the workplace. Basically the upshot is that being praised or recognised at work improves employee engagement and motivation. For many though this seems to be a once a year event at the annual performance appraisal and in many cases the ‘well done’ is quickly followed by objectives for the next year. The articles suggest that praise should be timely, specific, focused on the end goal and given often. In many ways this is very similar to the process that we have followed with our little girl (well tried to at least) when trying to teach her things such as table manners, using the toilet, cleaning her teeth. She even has her own sticker chart and rewards if she achieves a certain target each week. I can’t say for certain it is working – behaviour this week suggests otherwise – but we shall persevere.

The parenting books I have read (read might be a misleading term, skimmed maybe) suggest that it is important to focus on the positive behaviour rather than the ‘failures’ and when the behaviour isn’t as expected to deal with it quickly and then forget it.  A recent post by Dave Goddin picked this up talking about how school children are expected to make mistakes – it is part of the learning process. His post went on to consider how the workplace is different as failure tends to be viewed as a deficiency. Others have posted about how we treat failure at work and its consequences (What Goes Around and Thinking about Learning). I have no bright ideas about how to solve this problem but may be there is something to be learnt from the process of parenting.

As a parent you don’t tend to get much praise, the little ones you take care of are not yet advanced enough to recognise all the wonderful things you do for them everyday and I haven’t yet had an annual appraisal! I think you take your ‘recognition’ from a different source, more intrinsic, such as the joy at watching them learn new things, gain more independence etc. And just occasionally you may even be able to inwardly rejoice when someone compliments your child’s behaviour.

So while I may be missing out on my own personal sticker chart and rewards but at least I get to set my own objectives!

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