The Power Of A Boss’ Praise

Katie Young
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Wednesday - March 19, 2008

Brenda Lovette
Brenda Lovette

If you have a boss who truly shows his or her appreciation for the hard work you do for the organization, count yourself among the lucky ones.

For many of us, a job is more than just a job. If you like the work you do, it becomes a part of you. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours at the office.

Personally, I know I’ve been lucky to have quite a few great bosses who have communicated their expectations and their praise frequently and easily. But I’ve also had bosses who couldn’t ever find a kind word to say.

You’d be surprised what a difference a few nice words can make. Because if you have a boss who never has anything positive to say about the work you do, you can be left feeling not only unappreciated but bitter about the time and energy you’re putting into something you never seem to get recognition for. Negative feelings can wear away at you and cause frustration that carries over into other areas of your life.

“Reinforcement makes us want to be even better,” says Brenda Lovette, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and president of the Lokahi Consulting Group Inc. “It’s like fertilizer for plants.”

Lovette, who is also a member of the Hawaii Psychological Association, says that people definitely underestimate the power of praise. She says feeling valued also can have an effect on the functioning of a person’s immune system.

“When we feel valued, we feel more connected and part of the team,” she says. “When we feel connected to people, it relieves our stress. It’s smart for companies to make their employees feel valued because it will increase their functioning and productivity.”

Lovette also notes the importance of individuals being able to feel in control of their life through the jobs they are performing.

“Being acknowledged for what you do is so important. It gives us a sense of control when you do something and someone recognizes it. You feel you can keep moving forward. If you don’t get that praise, you can feel more out of control, like you don’t know what it will take to get the job done.”

Hawaii is home to many businesses that provide a great working environment for their employees. Hawaii Business Magazine will soon unveil its list of the “2008 Best Places to Work.” The annual Best Places to Work, sponsored by ProService Hawaii, is a rigorous program that finds and honors companies that are exemplary workplaces. The list of this year’s winners will be officially announced in their rank order March 27, however, each company has already been notified that they will be honored with this distinction.

Brett Seitman
Brett Seitman

It’s All About Kids, an organization that provides federally-funded, supplemental educational services to students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Hawaii made the 2008 list. And Brett Seitman, CEO of the company, agrees that praising your employees is an important part of running a successful business.

“Our business philosophy is to empower your people to make decisions, hold them accountable for the decisions they make and recognize them regularly,” he says. “If people don’t feel they are valued, then they will not have a true passion for what they are doing. It is also important that the values of the organization are aligned with the company’s values and mission.”

Seitman notes that if an employee doesn’t believe in the company’s product or service, then that employee will most likely not feel valued for the work they do.

“I believe people as a whole want to do the best they can. However, they have to believe what they are doing will, or is, making a difference,” he says. “If you can connect those dots, you will get the most out of your people and they will have the greatest self-satisfaction in their position and will want to continue to grow with the organization.”

Positive reinforcement and letting employees know how valued they are for the contributions they make is truly an important part of running a successful business. It will increase the productivity of your employees, build a better team environment and likely create feelings of ownership of company goals. Valuing those who give their time and energy to the overall success of your organization is just as important as anything else you’ll do as a leader.


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