Clarity in Communication

November 10, 2021

Communicating well has never been easier yet it appears we are continually falling short. Despite incredible leaps in technology, including a dedicated communication device in the palm of our hands, we struggle to communicate effectively. This is a huge problem for productivity and profitability.

A 2011 survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year in lost productivity because of inadequate communication to and between employees, according to the Holmes Report on “The Cost of Poor Communications.” 

Is this due to the sender or receiver of communication? The answer is an emphatic YES!

The sender can undermine message effectiveness for many reasons, including choosing the wrong medium (texting versus calling), not recognizing the power of non-verbal communication (body posture, tone of voice, etc.), not providing context, and using too few, too many or the incorrect words to clearly convey thoughts. The receiver can fail to carefully listen or read the message due to distraction or lack of focus, choose to make assumptions rather than ask clarifying questions, and respond only partially or not at all.

The most common reason organizations communicate poorly is because they don’t achieve clarity around key messages and stick with them, according to Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. The discipline to overcommunicate clarity is one aspect of Lencioni’s Four Discipline Model, which he says is vital for leadership where organizational health is concerned.

True Rumors

“The best way to ensure that a message gets communicated throughout an organization is to spread rumors about it,” writes Lencioni. “Tell true rumors. After decisions are made on a leadership team, have each leader immediately communicate that message to their direct reports.”

Lencioni says this results in “cascading communication” with a structured but interpersonal process of rolling key messages down throughout the organization. The effectiveness of it has to do with the contrast to more formal means of communication.

Three Keys to Cascading Communication:

  1. Message consistency from one leader to another
  2. Timeliness of delivery
  3. Live, real-time and in person communication (not email, but videoconferencing when necessary) – Make it interactive so questions can be asked in the moment

Sending & Receiving

Whether you’re in a leadership role or not, simple things can make a huge difference in the way you communicate as a sender and receiver.

When sending a message:

  • Be Intentional: Ensure the intention behind your message is clear. Provide context, set the appropriate tone, and remain sensitive to your audience.
  • Choose Best Medium: Though you may default to text or email, there are many times and many messages that should demand using the phone or delivered face-to-face.
  • Emoji or No Emoji: Etiquette regarding emojis in business texts is so far unclear. Context is critical as emojis are seen as more casual and can be interpreted inconsistently. On the other hand, they can quickly convey a mood. It’s probably best to use them sparingly.

When receiving a message:

  • Listen/Read Carefully: Seek first to understand, then to be understood as Stephen Covey so eloquently stated in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Be an active listener.
  • Ask Clarifying Questions: Rather than make assumptions, be sure you fully understand the message you read or hear. Assume only that the sender has positive intent until you have proof otherwise.
  • Respond Thoughtfully: Before you respond, ensure you clearly understand what the sender is looking for. Is it agreement, acceptance, approval, etc.? Once you know this, respond in a way that is respectful and kind.

These are obviously only a few things to consider as you seek to improve communication in your role. Keeping these in mind when you send or receive a message will likely improve the clarity in your communication. And that’s good for you and your organization.

Delivering Quality Feedback

October 14, 2021

To help direct reports improve and grow as leaders, it’s essential to provide quality feedback to best illustrate what they do well and what they do not do so well. When this feedback is behaviorally specific and delivered effectively, direct reports are more likely to receive the message well and take meaningful action.

Most importantly, you should begin with humility. Your recipient will be much more receptive when you connect as human beings first as it demonstrates that you acknowledge and accept that we are all perfectly imperfect.

The Center for Creative Leadership recommends the “situation-behavior-impact” methodology to help leaders be more precise and show up less arrogant when giving feedback. This method focuses on: 1) the situation, 2) the behavior (i.e., what the person did, either good or bad), and 3) the impact. Sticking to this methodology helps you avoid making judgments regarding the person’s intelligence, common sense or other personal attributes. And keeping it based on the events you observe, means you are less likely to sound judgmental or arrogant.

The CCL further recommends follow up inquiry to understand the person’s intent. Rather than assume, ask the person if what you witnessed was their intention. In this way they can potentially see how there may be a disconnect between what they intended and what transpired. This is a way to open the conversation and that’s where learning and potentially corrective action can occur.

Coaching Conversation

This is more of a coaching conversation, and it can help clarify the delta between intent and impact, which can result in a change in behavior. This type of conversation can also serve to increase trust and understanding. Ultimately, by inquiring in this way to understand the intention or motivation behind the action, you will both find it less disciplinary and more instructive.

Providing feedback is often a delicate area, but it need not be. It’s simply a matter of explaining what you observe and the resulting impact. When this impact is detrimental, it’s important to determine if that was the intention. And when the intent is different than the result, you can be helpful in corrective action and ensure there is learning so it doesn’t happen again.

Three Steps to Effectively Using 360 Feedback

May 5, 2017

If you are lucky enough to receive a 360-degree feedback survey to help you grow in your effectiveness within an organization, it’s vitally important that you do something with the results.

Constructive feedback from peers, direct reports, and bosses enable you to confirm and capitalize on your strengths and to neutralize your weaknesses in order to become a more effective leader. When taken seriously, this feedback can be especially instructive and help you reach your potential.

All too often, however, the data collected is read and then promptly put away in a file cabinet where it’s forgotten. This contributes to what is often viewed as a waste in leadership development programs.

A 2012 Study found that American companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development. Much of this is wasted because there is too much attention spent on gathering data or delivering information (e.g., classroom settings) and not nearly enough in planning and executing continuous improvement and accountability.

Critics may say 360 feedback surveys are not objective and therefore may not be reliable. While it’s true that the responses are subjective to the person doing the scoring, this doesn’t mean the results are not relevant or reliable. When 15 to 20 of your colleagues agree that you have a difficult time delegating, these subjective opinions are, in fact, a valid indicator of your workplace behavior.

The data collected can sometimes turn out to be contradictory, but this too can be instructive. If, for example, your direct reports all agree you are stellar at influencing and persuading, but your CEO says otherwise, it doesn’t mean you should discount the CEO’s perspective. It means that when presenting in front of the CEO you may not be as confident, comfortable or effective as when you’re presenting to your staff.

Ideally, all of your colleagues and direct reports would voice their perspective on your strengths and weaker areas in a direct and constructive manner. But we don’t live and work in this ideal world. The survey can often be a useful way to begin a conversation.

The information you receive in results of a 360 survey can often confirm what you already know and, more importantly, contradict or surprise what you thought you knew. This should be taken and used instructively to help you to grow. Constructive feedback is not always easy to hear and often requires a coach or manager to help you develop a plan for your learning as well as hold you accountable to it.

In my experience analyzing and delivering feedback from such surveys, most of my clients find the information accurate or at least can find a kernel of truth in the responses they receive. In this way, the individual is often able to see and accept what may have previously been a blind spot for them.

In many cases, the client seeing a behavioral attribute rated particularly low by so many colleagues can help motivate him or her to make changes. This is where the guidance of a coach or manager can be especially useful in helping to navigate a successful path to growth.

The most effective process to build on the feedback is to 1) Create goals specifically around weaker areas; 2) Develop a plan for how to accomplish such goals; 3) Have someone hold you accountable for achieving the goals.


By taking the low scoring areas and building SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals around them, the individual has something to work on. Writing this down and keeping it front and center keeps it actionable.

Development Plan

Once the goals are written, the next important step is to develop a plan for how to go about achieving them. Such a plan should document the necessary resources, knowledge and skills, mindsets, settings in which to practice new behaviors, and the specific individuals you will rely on for support and review.


Few of us are disciplined enough to achieve such behavioral goals without another person holding us accountable. This is where the person’s manager (Chairman of the board in the case of a CEO) comes in. By being completely transparent with a Development Plan, the person’s boss can then encourage, support, direct and, most importantly, hold the individual accountable for the achievement of such goals.

Like any leadership development program, a 360-feedback survey is only helpful when it is combined with follow-up action. And the best way to learn anything new is not simply by reading, but by putting into action what has been learned. This can be especially challenging with regard to behavioral skills and therefore requires the three steps highlighted above.

Know thyself by taking the 360 feedback as a measure of where you are perceived to be today. Then take the appropriate steps to move this learning into actionable steps to implement behavioral changes necessary to become a better leader.

Lifelong (Workplace) Learning

August 25, 2016

It’s nearing the end of summer and time for the kids to go back to school. September should also remind us that lifelong learning is vital in order for each of us to stay relevant at work and vibrant in life.

Whether you are just beginning your career, a mid-level manager or a seasoned leader, everyone should embrace lifelong learning—through formal continuing education, independent study, or deliberate behavioral adjustments. This will keep you moving forward at work and elsewhere.

A Fast Company article a couple years ago titled You’re Probably Making These Five Mistakes at Work pointed out the commonality found in people who may be limiting themselves in their careers. These mistakes are:

  1. Handling upsets poorly
  2. Failing to self-promote
  3. Thinking “me” instead of “we”
  4. Not asking for feedback
  5. Declining to take on new roles

It’s interesting to note how each of these may seem insignificant or you may even feel it contradicts how to be successful in your particular workplace, but for me, they all resonate with wisdom. Each has an element of maturity in them. Each of them points to a particular skill set such as emotional intelligence, courage, humility or communication.

The good news is that all of them can be corrected with a little bit of practice and discipline. This correction is certainly not rocket science, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take significant attention and focus. It can be especially helpful to have a mentor, supervisor, HR partner or colleague to help keep you on track and measure your progress.

Meanwhile, Marcel Schwantes conducted a LinkedIn survey last year prior to writing an article for Inc. Magazine titled 8 Mistakes Managers Make, According to Their Employees. He compiled the list after posting the question: “What is the one mistake leaders make more frequently than others?” The results came in from around the world where he states many employees felt distressed and disengaged. These eight mistakes represent how they “suck the life out of their teams.”

  1. Micromanaging
  2. Leading from a position of power or ego
  3. Not listening
  4. Not valuing followers
  5. Failing to grow themselves as leaders
  6. Lacking boundaries
  7. Not providing or receiving feedback
  8. Not sharing leadership

A great deal of avoiding these mistakes begins with self-awareness and understanding how your behavior is impacting employees. Learning the “soft skills” mentioned above can also be especially helpful.

Sometimes a leader can receive candid 360-feedback that is highly instructive in highlighting concerns. Corrective action can then be taken either independently or with the help of an executive coach. Other times it may take the form of a more heavy-handed directive from another senior leader, superior or HR representative in order to elevate the importance of correcting these mistakes.

Regardless of how you learn about your own mistakes, the importance is in whether or not you choose to change. Changing one’s behavior is not necessarily easy as it takes effort and constant attention.  Much can be learned through articles and books, mentoring and coaching, as well as trial and error with continual adjustments. The change may come about very slowly, but I am certain correcting these mistakes will help you in your career.

Learning begins with awareness and accepting that there is room for improvement. Once you can identify what may be holding you back from being most effective, it is time to identify an achievable goal towards the desired change and build a plan for achieving it.

Lifelong learning means you will never truly graduate, but only continue on your quest toward personal and professional excellence.

Low Employee Engagement: The Cost and the Cure

July 19, 2013

An astounding 70% of U.S. workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged, according to a 2012 survey by Gallup. Further, these actively disengaged employees are emotionally disconnected from their companies and as a result are less productive, more likely to miss work, more likely to steal, may negatively influence coworkers, and will drive customers away.

Employee engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes that are so essential to the organization’s productivity, profitability and customer engagement. And those who are actively disengaged at work (18%) can cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity every year.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace: 2010-2012 report also revealed that this level of employee engagement differed among generations.

Those at the beginning of their careers and at the end of their careers are most likely to be engaged at work. Traditionalists, representing merely 4% of the workforce, have the highest level of engagement at 41% and Millennials, who represent just 8% of the workforce, are second highest at 33%. The remaining 88% of the workforce has just 28% of Generation Xers and 26% of Baby Boomers likely to be engaged at work.

Clearly employee engagement is critical for every organization and much can be learned by the questions Gallup uses to measure it. They finalized what they call the Q12 in the late 1990s and it has since been administered to more than 25 million employees in 189 countries. These 12 questions represent what Gallup considers actionable workplace elements with proven links to performance outcomes.

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who cares about my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel the job I do is important.
  9. My associates or fellow workers are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

The answers to these questions are important, but so are the questions themselves. What do they reveal about employee engagement? It seems to me that clarity about the work and focusing on the employee’s strengths is important. Recognition and praise for a job well-done too. Empathy, congeniality and genuine concern are also important.

The order of the questions is also intentional. The first two represent the employee’s primary needs and asks: What do I get out of this role? Questions 3 through 6 have to do with how employees think about their own contribution as well as their connection to the team and the organization. The questions 7 through 10 have to do with: Do I belong? The final two questions have to do with whether or not the employee can learn, grow and input their own ideas.

Increasing employee engagement is not a one-off intervention through an annual team building off-site, but instead it is a continual process of healthy workplace policies and behaviors. These should include:

  • Clear roles and responsibilities for everyone, and ensure that each person is equipped with the right tools and training to do the job they were hired to do.
  • Start at the top. If your managers, directors, vice presidents and CEO are not engaged, you can forget about your frontline employees. Ensure that engagement begins at the top and extends throughout the organization.
  • Live the values in your business plan. Employees join your company because of its reputation and what they believe you stand for. Ensure that these values are more than corporate marketing.
  • Build upon employee strengths. Rather than focusing on fixing weaknesses, companies should focus on building upon each employee’s individual strengths. According to research, Gallup found that people who use their strengths everyday are six times more likely to be engaged at work.
  • Give praise and be friendly. There is no reason why the workplace needs to be a cold and dreary place. Every one of us has the opportunity to show gratitude and genuine concern for others at work. This can go a long way towards making us feel that our contribution matters and that we’re cared about.

Each of these can help raise employee engagement, but they need to be under constant scrutiny because they won’t last simply because they were written down in some policy and procedures manual. These policies and behaviors need to be continually demonstrated and practiced for engagement to last.

Actively engaged employees should be the goal because they are directly tied to positive business outcomes. Getting and retaining employees who are actively engaged means better business results and a better place to work. And that’s the cure we all could use.

10 Tips to Improve Workplace Communication

December 30, 2011

In the spirit of year-end top ten lists, here are my top ten tips to improve communication in the workplace—for this and every year. Better communication is important because it can provide more engaged employees, higher workplace morale, and greater efficiency and productivity.

As I wrote in a previous post on how to improve listening, communication skills include reading, writing, speaking and listening. All of these skills are important in most workplaces and each of them should be considered.

My top ten tips to improve workplace communication are as follows.

1.  Clear & Direct. Be certain the information you need to convey—whether it is spoken or written—is clear and directly communicated. Use language that is specific and unambiguous. Check that the receiver understands the message as you intended. Avoid acronyms when there’s a chance they will be unclear.

2.  Actively Listen. Becoming an active listener means you make a conscious effort to truly hear what the other person is saying—in their words as well as their body language. Practice holding off thinking about how to respond or interrupting until you have thoroughly heard what they are saying. It should come as no surprise that the best communicators are also the best listeners.  

3.  Paraphrase. The goal of paraphrasing is to ensure you are clear about what has been said and let the speaker know that you care about what he or she is communicating. Both are equally important in effective communication. Use a variation on “What I hear you saying is . . .” to accomplish this.

4.  Face-to-Face. Whenever you have difficult information to convey or sometihing that could result in many questions, choose to have a direct face-to-face conversation. You will also have the huge benefit of non-verbal communication cues including tone of voice, facial expressions and other body language.

5.  Be Respectful. This means using the other person’s name, looking them in the eye, and nodding to aid in demonstrating you understand what they are saying. If you are communicating in writing, reread before sending your message to ensure that it could not be misinterpreted or taken as disrespectful. When on the phone, don’t multitask even if you think the person on the other end of the line does not know that you are.

6.  Message & Medium. Some of us are better communicating in writing and some are better at speaking. Some of us are better reading information and some at listening to information. In most cases, it depends on the message being delivered and received. When you need to deliver a message, consider whether it should be spoken or written depending on the content as well as the preference of your receiver.

7.  Tailor Conversation to Audience. Communicating with your boss, co-worker, customer or supplier may require a slightly different style. With your boss, be careful to pick the right time, and ask for what you need and what you expect they can reasonably deliver. For a co-worker, be direct, transparent, and open-minded. And if a customer or supplier calls with a problem, listen carefully, apologize if necessary even if it wasn’t your fault, and offer a solution.

8.  Effective Texting. More and more of our workplace communication is done via email, voice mail and text messaging. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these, depending on the message and the audience. Texting can be especially effective when a quick question or answer is required without further explanation or repeated follow up, e.g., “What time is the budget meeting?” But don’t text when it cannot effectively communicate your message.

9.  Make the Most of Meetings. Way too many of us spend time in meetings that are unproductive and often unnecessary. Demand that those calling a meeting provide an agenda, hold to the appointed start and end time, and have only the right people in attendance. Ensure that the work done in the meeting warrants the time and resources taken away from those working independently.

10. Stay Positive. Regardless of the conversation, try to keep it positive. Even the harshest feedback can and should be delivered in a positive, supportive, team-centric manner. Stay focused on behavior or performance and not character. When you are on the receiving end, avoid getting triggered by difficult messages. Keep in mind the bigger picture and the long term implications.

These ten tips for improving workplace communication can be implemented and perfected by anyone. Take an honest look at your own communication skills then choose one of the above to improve upon. 

The work you put into improving your communication skills will pay dividends both at work and at home.

The Pain Relief of Soft Skills

July 14, 2010

There’s a saying in business that you are either selling aspirin (making a customer’s pain go away) or vitamins (by making the customer’s existing situation better).

My work involves helping individuals and organizations with so-called “soft skills,” or things like interpersonal communication, self-awareness, conflict negotiation, collaboration and leadership. These soft skills are typically considered vitamins more than aspirin. But should they?

In my experience, many organizations suffer a great deal of pain because employees lack proficiency in many of these interpersonal areas. This is because most organizations are challenged more by the relationships between people than by technical problems or business issues. The pain may not be as obvious or easy to measure, but that doesn’t lessen its impact on the bottom line.

The downturn in the economy resulted in slashed budgets of training and development departments, and many departments jettisoned altogether. But what is the cost of not focusing on these people skills both now and in the near future?

According to a study by Indiana Business Research Center, they found that while credentials in the form of degrees and certificates are important, development of soft skills (skills that are more social than technical) are a crucial part of a dynamic workforce. The skills projected to be in highest demand for all Indiana occupations through 2014 include active listening, critical thinking, speaking, active learning, writing, time management, and social perceptiveness.

Research conducted by DePaul University concluded that recruiters want business schools to put more attention on people-oriented skills like leadership and communication. However, students complain that those soft skills won’t get them hired, and they pressure business schools to focus more on functional or technical content.

So which is more important: technical skills or soft skills? It seems to me that you need technical skills to get hired, but soft skills are what help you succeed once you are hired. Both are ultimately important, but technical skills get a lot more attention, especially in a poor economy where securing a job is paramount.

This may be changing. According to a 2007 survey by OfficeTeam, and the International Association of Administrative Professionals, two-thirds of HR managers say they would hire an applicant with strong soft skills whose technical abilities are lacking. Only nine percent of those surveyed said they would hire someone who had strong technical expertise but weak interpersonal skills.

“While office technology skills are very important, excellent interpersonal skills are invaluable and usually more difficult to teach,” said Sandra P. Chandler, president of IAAP.

A 2007 Computerworld survey of hiring and skills reported that IT executives are increasingly looking for people with a broad range of soft skills in addition to their technical abilities. The survey respondents said writing and public speaking are two of the most important soft skills they look for when hiring new employees. Additionally, they want candidates who understand business process, work well with a team, know how to get their points across, are inquisitive, use initiative and are willing to take risks.

Further, a survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that although recent MBA’s were strong in analytical aptitude, quantitative expertise, and information-gathering ability, they were sorely lacking in other critical areas employers find equally attractive. These areas include strategic thinking, written and oral communication, leadership, and adaptability.

Peggy Klaus, in research for her book The Hard Truth About Soft Skills—Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner, continually encountered people who were not getting where they wanted to go in their careers. “Their problems rarely stemmed from a shortfall in technical or professional expertise, but rather from a shortcoming in the soft skills arena with their personal, social, communication and self-management behaviors.”

Soft skills are important in entry level or unskilled positions too. In a 2008 Job Outlook survey by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, the top characteristics looked for in new hires by 276 employer respondents (mostly from the service sector) were all soft skills: communication ability, a strong work ethic, initiative, interpersonal skills, and teamwork.

If soft skills are so important to employers, why is there so little focus on fostering them in employees? I would argue that during this time of record layoffs and fewer employees being asked to do more of the work, it is vitally important to make each of them more efficient and productive. Soft skills training can be especially helpful in this effort.

Soft skills should not be considered “touchy-feely stuff that’s nice to have, but can’t afford it right now.” Proficiency in these skills separate organizations who may survive yet another year versus those who grow, adapt and are able to compete in a global economy.

Employees proficient in soft skills demonstrate higher employee engagement, greater productivity, and help make an entire organization more competitive in the marketplace.

Though the benefits of soft skills training may be hard to measure in the short term, organizations need to look beyond simple pain relief from a symptom of a much bigger problem and toward a long term, system-wide wellness approach. Soft skills training is key to a healthy organization.

Mark Craemer

Genuine Praise Makes Good Business Sense

February 9, 2010

Having worked in for-profit and non-profit organizations provided me with an appreciation for both environments. In the for-profit sector, the pay was typically better and I generally found a greater sense of urgency for getting things done. In the non-profit sector, I felt a sense of altruism for what I was contributing to society and I received a great deal more praise. This last item always made me curious as to why giving praise to employees was not more widespread in the for-profit sector.

It turns out that giving an employee genuine praise often goes a lot further than even monetary rewards, and that makes good business sense.

According to a 2003 Gallup survey outlined in the book, “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, 61% of American workers received no praise at work. And the biggest reason people leave their jobs is because they feel unappreciated.

Through their research of some four million employees in 10,000 business units and 30 industries worldwide, they found that workers who do receive regular recognition and praise: 1) increase their engagement among colleagues, 2) increase their individual productivity, 3) receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, 4) have better safety records and fewer job-related accidents, and 5) are more likely to stay with their organization.

All of us need recognition and reassurance in our work lives just as we do in our personal lives. Praise increases the pride we take in our work and that improves job satisfaction as well as the quality of our products and services. Praise reinforces our relationships with co-workers and supervisors. Praise also keeps us from feeling that we are taken for granted and it builds company loyalty, which is all too rare these days.

So if praise is so vital to productivity, customer satisfaction, workplace safety, employee engagement, and employee retention why aren’t more organizations dishing it out more liberally? There could be many reasons. For instance, some managers, directors and executives simply are not comfortable with giving praise. This could be due to their family or educational backgrounds, or because the corporate culture doesn’t encourage it. Some may believe that a paycheck and standard benefits package is sufficient and if you want a pat on the back, you should get it in your personal life.

Whatever the reason for-profit organizations skimp on this simple strategy, it is time to reverse the impulse to hold back praise and instead let it flow.

Here are some suggestions for delivering praise in your organization:

Praise with purpose. Your purpose in praising someone at work is not to get him or her to like you. The purpose is to increase employee productivity, engagement and retention. Praise should not be confused with a compliment. You compliment someone on their sweater, but you praise them on their skill at finding a solution to a business problem.

Praise with honesty. Employees can easily see through an empty statement that lacks genuine appreciation. This can damage your credibility and possibly make things worse. Instead, genuinely deliver praise on something you see them do that is beneficial to the organization.

Praise with specificity. Target the praise you offer someone and don’t just say “great job.” Instead, say something specific such as, “That presentation you gave this morning was informative and has generated a lot of buzz around here.” Or ask an employee for his or her input on a specific project or problem. Soliciting someone’s advice or opinion is praising their intelligence and it makes them feel valued.

Praise in public and reprimand in private. This can be tricky if the employee is easily embarrassed, but publicly praising an individual employee can often improve morale of all employees. Simple kudos during a meeting or in a company newsletter can be good forms of public recognition. Just as important, leave all reprimands or critical feedback for private meetings.

Praise also does not have to come only from those on the top as praise should emanate in all directions throughout the organization. And it is likely to be contagious. Give it a try in your organization. Catch someone doing something especially well and tell them why you personally think that is so great. You may find in this little act that you end up appreciating your own job a little more.

Mark Craemer