Thursday, March 6, 2008

Power of a pat on the back

by KParthasarathi Thursday, March 06, 2008
People by nature are frugal in praise but generous in criticism. How often do we see people in work place praising others? I had come across many bosses who extracted hard work from their juniors and appropriated full credit for the work done without even a cursory mention of a ‘thank you’ to the people who made it possible. They would never pause to think about the feelings of people who work for them and their need to be recognized.
There are also some who believe motivating employees is best done thro expressing their happiness to them for the work done. They are aware that when the employees know that their work is appreciated and ability respected they are sure to produce much more. Such people build right work environment and foster high morale among their subordinates.
I was then a middle level finance executive in a large company. I had to work on a weekend on a project along with the Head of marketing wing (HoM) and his executives to finalize a report for the board by Monday. It was a marathon two day effort extending up to midnight. The report was ready by 2am on Monday. In the morning the HoM took me along to the Head of Finance (HoF) to get his approval for the report. The HoM placing his hand on my shoulder told him “Sir, this report would not have been finalized but for the prodigious efforts from Partha. He had been working at it for a week sitting late hours. He didn’t sleep whole of last night. He gave us invaluable inputs and suggestions. How I wish he were in my department”. I was flabbergasted though embarrassed a little as it was a team effort. All my tiredness vanished the moment he praised me to my boss. This single act of acknowledging the work done and giving a pat at the right time to the right quarter earned for him my loyalty forever.
But not all are like that. There are only a few who know the art of praising people unstintingly where due. They realize that people want praise and recognition. To be noticed and patted is a strong motivator. There is no cost in praising someone but the benefit is immense. Enlightened employers understand that reward and recognition achieve astounding results than threat and punishment. They make people feel important. Weak bosses take good work for granted. I had observed there is eagerness among employees to work under bosses who are liberal with praise and avoid getting trapped with those who are parsimonious in tribute. The generous type naturally attracts good workers and in turn is more successful.
There are however some guidelines in praising juniors.
*Be honest. Recognize only when the work turned out is genuinely good and out of the ordinary. In other words too much and too frequent praise would cheapen it
*Be impartial in praise. Do not play the game of favourites.
*Praise at the right time. It should always be immediately after the good job done so that the junior would know why he is being appreciated. Catch people doing things right, as they say. I have seen some bosses remembering the good work and not uttering one word but at the end of the year pay glowing tributes in the confidential appraisal reports. They serve little to motivate.
*Praise openly preferably in the presence of others without any qualifying remarks attached to it.
*Praise for the efforts put in even if the result is not as expected.
I cannot forget as a junior finance executive my pressing repeatedly the head of another company to clear their long standing large dues to our company. They were having cash problems. When my boss from head office had come I took him to meet the head of that company. I was a little apprehensive that he may complain about my troubling him frequently. When they met, he told my boss”Sir, Partha is a pain on my neck.” He paused for a while and added “I want one like him to recover our dues. Would you allow him to join us on a higher grade?” This was a rare praise from an unexpected quarter but made me his eternal admirer.

1 comment:

  1. extremely useful post.
    only a person generous at heart can give a genuine praise. and you are right again when you say that a pat on the back can make the difference between success and failure.
    best wishes