Managers can learn much about praise from the sports industry. Critical to the success of any sports or corporate team is praise. Here’s how coaches and fans motivate athletes and (and what you can learn from them!):
Cheer your team. Perhaps professional athletes would play simply for the money, but can you imagine a basketball game with no fans and no roaring cheers? It wouldn’t be the same without the fans. The cheering of fans energizes athletes. Fans cheer to motivate, encourage and show support for their teams. Athletes, like your employees, are motivated by both money and praise. Never assume money alone is going to motivate and keep employees.
Praise progress, not just results. Football fans don’t wait until a touchdown to cheer. They cheer when their team moves the ball to first down and when the opposing team is stopped on third down. Many managers withhold praise until the goal is accomplished and some only give praise during an annual performance review.
Point out the positive, even when your team misses the mark. In an interview after a loss, coaches always state what their team did well, highlighting the effort and talent of their players. Coaches summarize things the team could have done better and quickly point out the strengths of the other team and they do this without slamming their team.
Here’s a creative idea you might want to try. One day I got my entire team involved in praise. I sent an email to the group and asked each employee to take a few moments to leave a note for a fellow employee stating why they appreciated them. The next morning I had 12 notes from employees thanking me! The notes kept coming throughout the day and every employee took the time to thank every one of their co-workers. The department buzzed with energy the entire day.
Everyday you should look for opportunities to praise your team. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.