A recent personal experience gave me an idea that small business owners could use to get better employee performance.

I taught my 11-year-old son how to mow our front lawn. He takes great pride in doing a good job. He mows one direction and then comes back over it in a crisscross pattern. The neighbors have taken notice.

I think what helped him was that I made a conscientious effort to praise him privately. I told him he did a wonderful job, and his efforts allowed me to get other stuff done. Then I made a point to praise him publicly in front of his mother and sisters. Each time I could see his chest fill with pride, and he’s taking ownership of his work.

I believe that this same conscientious effort would work for small business owners.  It’s normal procedure, and necessary at times, to critique an employee’s work.  But did you also know that a study by the Harvard Business Review(1) shows that words of praise are vitally important in workplace environments?  In fact, the best-performing teams in the study received almost 6 positive comments for every 1 negative. The lowest performing team received 3 negative comments for every 1 positive. Criticism is just going to happen, but you have to be purposeful about praise.

Many of our customers manage offsite employees who clock in and clock out of our timekeeping system. They may rarely, if ever, see their employees in person.  One way that supervisors or owners can privately and publicly praise their employees is through the text messaging feature on our mobile app.  A private message can be sent to an employee, and a company-wide announcement can be sent.  Both can be set as required reading before the employee can clock in or out.  For employees who call to clock in and clock out, supervisors can leave voice mails that employees must listen to at their next clock in or out. These are great communication tools and easy ways to pass along a few positive words.

Purposeful praise might be a cost-effective way to get better employee performance. Finding those opportunities will be enlightening.

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(1) Harvard Business Review, The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman