Do you compliment?

Sign reading REWARDS & RECOGNITION with a big black arrow pointing to the rightPeople whose efforts are rewarded are more engaged and do better work. Unsurprisingly, they’re happier, too, at work and at home.

So here’s the question for leaders and managers: do you compliment? Do you acknowledge? Do you recognize?

Compliments are, as Christopher Littlefield points out, “conflict prevention.” Littlefield knows whereof he speaks: he’s a conflict resolution expert, author, and founder of the company Beyond Thank You.

So if you’ve got conflict on your team, think about setting a team objective to offer each other sincere compliments, recognition that everyone is doing something well.

Littlefield also recommends asking people what they want to be recognized for. This sounds a little odd, perhaps, but it’s closely aligned with the Platinum Rule: do unto others as they want to be done unto.

We might think we’re doing the right thing by recognizing or complimenting someone on a characteristic we’d like to have, or a task we’re glad they did.

But that might not be what they poured heart, soul, and effort into.

So – ask! “What would you like to be recognized for?”

You might have to push a bit to get a solid answer. It’s definitely not a question most of us have ever been asked, much less asked anyone else. And answering it is kinda vulnerable.

Come to think of it, you might want to ask yourself what you’d most like to be recognized for, to have acknowledged as an accomplishment or skill, or to be complimented on. You might surprise yourself with your answer!

One important warning here: in thinking about what to compliment someone on, do yourself and everyone else a favor, and do not mention their weight, or their appearance in any way. I know how tempting it is … but just don’t. You have no idea why someone lost or gained weight, or what’s behind their new haircut, or any other change in their style or look. If they mention it, that’s fine – I have a friend who often changes her hairstyle and talks about why she does it, and that opens the door for people to comment and connect. Otherwise, you just don’t know what sore spot you might unwittingly be stepping on.

That said – what would you like to be complimented on?

Part of learning to be a manager lies in learning how to give feedback, whether complimentary or constructive. That involves a lot of variables, from timing to the all-important question of what to say to be effective. This is just one of the topics we’ll be looking at, in real-time and with real-world practice (not role play!) in the Community of Practice, Learning, and Experience for first-line managers. To learn more, click here.