The hidden dangers of praising your team


Everyone loves to be recognised for their work. You don’t need to see any scientific reasoning behind that statement — it’s a human need to be positively acknowledged for the effort that we put in. Whether it’s acing that math test in high school or nailing a presentation at work, we all want to know we’ve done a good job. So why is it that praise doesn’t always magically turn into motivation as soon as it’s uttered? 

The wrong kind of praise

No doubt, if you’re a leader, you’ve brought your team together at one point and praised them for a job well done on the latest project. ‘Great teamwork!’ ‘Great results!’ Many leaders pat themselves on the back after that kind of praise and call it a day, but it may surprise you to learn that this praise is not necessarily going to get you the same results (or better) next time. 

The fact is, every single one of your team members want to be praised differently because they’re motivated differently. 

For some, the process matters more. Did they complete the task more efficiently than ever before? Did they implement new, easier to understand systems? For these people, praising the results, no matter how good they are, won’t give them the sense of accomplishment you think. For others, the end result is all that matters, who cares how they got there? For them, praise of their methods might fall on deaf ears. 

In other cases, it’s the way that the praise is delivered. Some people love to have their achievements acknowledged in front of a crowd while others are embarrassed by the thought of it, preferring to be acknowledged privately for their efforts. 

Does praise (and the way it’s given) really matter? 

Yes! A study by Gallup found that there was a 10 to 20% difference in revenue and productivity when employees were receiving recognition or praise for doing good work. Those who reported that they weren’t adequately recognised at work were three times more likely to say they’d quit in the next year. 

The crux of it? Your team will work better when you recognise their good work and, if you don’t, you’ll stand to lose them. 

Recognising your team shouldn’t follow a script

Switching up the way you praise your team is important. Using the same words, only praising in team meetings or only praising the team as a whole can become predictable and as meaningless as not praising your team at all. 

  • At the end of the day, send an email letting a team member acknowledging and appreciating something they did today. 
  • Write a handwritten card or note sharing your appreciation. 
  • Give them the chance to work on a project they’re passionate about.
  • Gift them a small, but meaningful, gift that shows you pay attention to their hobbies and interests as well as displaying appreciation for their work. 
  • Praise people publicly for their efforts (if appropriate) to encourage others by proxy. 

You know your team better than anyone, so think outside the box and give them the recognition they deserve in creative ways. 

Want to give your team the recognition they deserve? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.