I have followed the aggressive rise of Zoom meetings with great interest. Whether it is personal coaching, career advice, or preaching, I am especially fond of the speakers who thrive on engagement with their audiences, those who are hungry for loud acknowledgement at every turn.
They constantly plead with, some harangue, their online audiences to type responses in the chat boxes. Still unsure whether they are indeed connecting with the followers, some punctiliously dictate the exact answers they prefer to see in the chats. Disengaged and disconnected audiences are a limitation to the success of the programmes. The same expectations are found at workplaces, where some workers still say they do not know whether their performance is up to standard. One is more likely to encounter workers who say they never or rarely get to know whether they are competent.
The philosopher William James once argued that, “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Nowhere else has this been truer than in today’s exacting work environments. Workers believe that challenging work, growth opportunities, job security, compensation, and receiving compliments for a job that is well done, are top motivators.
When done in an authentic, specific, and timely manner, compliments can benefit both the giver and receiver. Receiving a compliment brightens people’s days way more than is imagined. It is akin to receiving lubricating oil on a dry and thirsty patch, and goes a long way towards renewing zest and morale.
For the giver, the writer Gina Lake warns against being stingy and holding back, because “when we withhold, we feel small, petty, impotent, and lacking.” Academic Erica Boothby writes that, “neuroscientists have even shown that the brain processes verbal affirmations similarly to financial rewards.”
While upwards of 80% of people say being recognized amplifies their value, it is interesting to note that close to 70% is either embarrassed or discomfited when it comes to giving and receiving compliments. It has thus been argued that knowing how to compliment and give recognition where it is deserved has grown to be an integral part of leadership and influence.
There are growing calls for the appreciation of the time, sacrifice, creativity, and dedication that workers show on their assignments. Formal performance appraisals that have been increased to twice a year or quarterly in some enterprising companies still do not satisfy the yawning gap in employee recognition. Some people note that formal reviews tend to be time-consuming and certainly fail the test of giving timely praise. Further, they suggest that waiting for a week to congratulate an employee who has done well is too long.
Content writer and novelist Rob Verschuren has called for a compliment calendar, which he describes as a “system that helps you monitor your recognition activities to ensure there is no forgetting some people while prioritizing others. It can be part of a comprehensive tool to facilitate employee engagement on all levels.”
Novelist Dan Pearce chides those who unnecessarily withhold praise thus: “the next time you want to withhold your help, or your love, or your support for another for whatever reason, ask yourself a simple question: do the reasons you want to withhold reflect more on them or you? And which reasons do you want to define you forevermore?”
In efforts to boost recognition-rich environments, motivation, engagement and performance, psychologist Hara Estroff Marano suggests that instead of time spent looking for reasons why things are not working, it may pay better dividends to also focus and celebrate the instances where things work well.
American poet Criss Jami succinctly observes that, “it is never ridicule, but a compliment, that knocks a philosopher off his feet. He is already positioned for every possible counter-attack, counter-argument, and retort...only to find a big bear hug coming his way.”