DealHow often do you praise or encourage those around you – family members, work colleagues, or even janitorial staff, hard at work?

Humans have a core need to feel appreciated and respected.

In a Gallup Business Journal article, senior editor Jennifer Robison explains how brain chemistry – specifically dopamine – impacts human feelings and behavior.

Dopamine stimulates parts of the human brain that process rewards and create positive emotions (joy, satisfaction, etc.). Receiving recognition at work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure.

Gallup’s engagement survey data reveal that less than one in three American workers strongly agrees that they’ve received any praise from a supervisor in the previous seven days.

Why do bosses not praise or encourage others more frequently? It could be their internal beliefs that get in the way.

Here’s an example. One of my clients has a highly secure workplace. Security officers staff entrances at all times. Employees gain entrance with coded ID cards, carefully watched by the officers. Visitors pass muster only when escorted by vetted employees.

One busy morning a cafeteria employee was catering a meeting in a lobby conference room when a wheel on her food cart got stuck while she passed the entrance kiosk. The cart dumped, pastries flying and coffee carafes breaking, glass shards and hot coffee everywhere.

The officer on duty kept his cool. He called maintenance to get someone down quickly to start the clean up, then called the cafeteria to let them know another service cart would be needed for the meeting. All the while, he kept scanning employees through and greeting visitors and arranging their escorts.

I saw the security police chief later that morning and said, “Boy, Officer Williams did a nice job juggling the food cart spill this morning. You praised him for his efforts, right?” The chief grimaced and said, “No, I didn’t praise him. If he’d have jumped over the counter, stretched out like wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and caught the coffee carafes before they broke, THAT would have deserved praise!”

The chief was serious. The officers in that department don’t get praised very often, despite delivering top performance and impressive customer service under trying conditions.

You may have similar beliefs to those of the chief. Many bosses I’ve seen see their jobs as managing processes and results. Yet, your best boss recognized your contributions and inspired you.

#GreatBosses see their jobs as managing people’s energy.

People do a lot of things well each day. By being attuned to those things and by actively reinforcing them, you’ll build better relationships as well as better performance from your team (and family) members.

How did your best boss praise and encourage you? When your efforts are ignored, how does that make you feel about your work, your boss, or your company?

Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Share your experiences in my fast & free Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are described on my blog’s research page.

This research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your company.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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