Leadership Lessons – The Forgotten Magic of Praise

Can you think back to a time in your career when you received a positive affirmation about something you’d done at work.

‘You really smashed that.’

‘The client was so impressed by you.’

‘I wanted to let you know that you’re doing a great job and we’re really proud to have you representing our firm.’

It means a lot doesn’t it? Especially when it’s not expected (i.e not at an appraisal or some other personal development meeting.)

Now couple your own personal memories with international research that was conducted in 2022 on the matter. Gallup and Human surveyed thousands of teams around the globe and concluded that organisations who doubled the amount of praise they afforded their workforce enjoyed a 9% increase in productivity.

And that’s not the only statistic that caught the attention of managers in practice; alongside the aforementioned productivity increases a 22% reduction in absenteeism was noted!

These two reasons should be compelling enough for UK accounting firms to build in regular opportunity to offer their staff authentic praise.

But before you march out the door and start praising your staff willy nilly, take a moment to consider the best way to deliver it. In addition to highlighting the impact of praise on productivity and absenteeism, this research also uncovers how employees best respond to the delivery of praise and will help you review your firm’s current praise and recognition strategy and put a considered action plan in place to improve it.

These 5 pillars of strategic recognition are recommended in the executive report:

1. Quantity

An employee who receives an inordinate amount of praise won’t be able to see the wood from the trees when it comes to recognising areas of outstanding achievement. Employees should be praised when  they complete particularly exceptional work or really go above and beyond to support the team and/or its client base.

2. Authentic

Authenticity in leadership is a whole blog post in itself but when it comes to delivering praise, digging a little deeper into what the praise relates to and how it positively impacted you as a leader and other stakeholders will ensure that you receive full buy in from the recipient and that they praise is felt to be authentic.

3. Personalised

Sending a generic email to a whole team telling them that they did a good job as a group can be useful and help to boost morale and teamwork. But it also needs to be delivered in a personalised way so that each employee can see that you’re recognising their individual contribution.

4. Equitable

There’s nothing more demoralising for a team than feeling like there is a teacher’s pet in the office. Make sure you’re offering praise where it’s deserved and recognise that not all staff will be as active in showcasing their successes. Make sure you take note and seek out reasons to praise the quieter members of the team.

5. Embedded in your culture

Great leaders will offer praise and recognition when they feel its appropriate. But great firms will also make sure that opportunities to actively uncover reasons to offer praise should be embedded in your workforce culture, practices and day to day processes.

So it should form part of your performance and development policy, appraisals, teambuilding, internal and external communications and your daily operational practices too.

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we know better than most how stressful, time consuming and money draining high staff turnover can be. So, its in your interest as a hiring manager to be looking at any part of your employee value proposition that isn’t holding up and is therefore causing you to lose talented accountants.

We also understand that your jobs are incredibly busy and that finding time to give everyone a regular pat on the back can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge worth rising too!

If you’ve found this article interesting we have plenty more Leadership Lessons in our archives. Here’s just a few:

Leadership Lessons – Analyse a Candidate’s Personality and Create a Winning Team


Leadership Lessons – Acknowledging and Rectifying a Mistake


Leadership Lessons – The Importance of Rest


Leadership Lessons – How to nurture potential in accountancy


Sources: Empowering Workplace Culture Through Recognition


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