Giving praise

Just some thoughts on giving praise.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a manager/team-lead/head-of-whatever is to give praise only to a few of the people who worked on a project.

Giving praise to only one or two of the people who worked on something has 2 results:

  • They who got the praise feel embarrassed because they think that everyone else thinks that they claimed credit for the whole work.
  • People who didn’t get praise will be extremely disappointed.

When you give praise, investigate as much as you would if you were about to criticize someone. Understand who did what, pay attention to details, and give everyone the credit they deserve.

Be as detailed and descriptive as possible. Simply saying “Good job” or “Nice” can have the opposite effect, the people who get the praise may think that you only care about the final result and that you don’t care or even do not know how it was achieved.

Instead of saying “Good job”, try to be more specific, e.g. “It’s great that you did X because it will solve the case Y, and we will not struggle in the future with problem Z”.

Try to understand the people to whom you give praise, not everyone feels comfortable getting praise in public, and not everyone appreciates getting praise “only” in private.

Some are made modest by great praise, others insolent. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Published 7 Nov 2018

Software Engineering Lead, Certified AWS Solutions Architect. Newsletter with links for tech leads Opinions are my own and not necessarily the views of my employer.
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