Tina Lewis Rowe

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Ken Blanchard and Tina Lewis Rowe — We Agree About Praise

About Praising

Praise what you want to have repeated. To praise someone means to commend them, congratulate them, honor them, extol their virtues, go into raptures over something they have done, or to strongly compliment them. Those descriptions set some high standards for what is praiseworthy! It also reminds us that there is a difference between thanking someone and praising them.

Ken Blanchard and Tina Lewis Rowe. Ken Blanchard wrote about the One Minute Praise in his books on the One Minute Manager concept. I teach about the Instant Impact Praise, which is praise that only takes a few seconds.  Both Ken and I (If I had ever met him I am sure I would call him by his first name) point out that praising not only emphasizes what behavior and performance is valued, it also is a way of saying that the employee is valuable. That is what makes praise so effective.

Tips for praising in ways that mean more to employees and you:

 1. Praise individuals. Telling everyone in staff meeting that you appreciate all they have done is appropriate. However, it will not have the same impact as communicating with each individual. If you have more than twenty people to praise, you may have to rely on mass compliments. If you have a smaller number, thank each person for his or her specific role.

2. Praise specifically. There are times when a general “good job” is sufficient, because the employee knows what you are talking about. Most of the time praise should be specific. For one thing, “good job” is not really praising, it is simply acknowledging in a rather tepid way.

3. Praise honestly.  When a supervisor walks through a workplace, smiling and saying, “Good work!” to everyone, it dilutes the praise for those who really are doing a good job, and gives false approval to those who are not. Look for ways to praise to the appropriate level of accomplishment, and look for ways to recognize what is praiseworthy.

* Develop a Praise Phrase Vocabulary: Use the concepts that fit the work and the person, and praise high enough to show how valuable the work and the employee really is. “Wow! You’re really impressive in the way you handle an upset customer.” “That was exactly the way that project needed to be done.” “This report is a masterpiece of organization.” “You are certainly catching on to this assignment considering the short time you have worked on it. You’re doing the inventory just right.” “When I hear compliments from clients like the ones I heard about this program, I am so glad you work here!”

Don’t those sound more like praise, than, “Good job”? You need to say more than one sentence. But, even if you have to stop at that because of time or the situation, you will have really praised!

* Praise when it is merited, not just to be tossing out praise. Praise is a form of training, because it lets employees know what is valued, and encourages them to do it again. If you praise when work or behavior is not good, or if you praise in generalities when only one specific thing was good, you still are training–but not about the right things.

If you think you will never be able to praise an employee, because he or she is not very praiseworthy, consider these two thoughts: 1. Watch more closely and find something to praise–it nearly always is there. 2. If there really isn’t anything to praise, what are you doing about it?

Enjoy praising–it is one of the best perks of being a supervisor or manager.

Most coworkers do not praise each other. If they do, the praise is more like friendly support. When a manager or supervisor praises it often has more value to the employee–not always, but often. Praise individually, specifically and honestly, and it will brighten an employee’s day, and yours too!

July 10th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | 5 comments


  1. Hi, Tina! I’ve been on vacation and had to catch up with all the articles. I loved the photos of the swans, and I liked the article about the roads of life! I wanted to write to say the things you taught about Instant Impact communication have been a big help to me. I try not to overdo it, but it has made it easier for me to praise people or correct them. I’m getting better at all of that as time goes on.

    Also, the idea about not praising when it isn’t deserved is important. We have supervisors who try to make people like them by going overboard with praising and thanking people. It loses it’s meaning that way.

    I hope you are having a good summer. D.

    Comment by denisek | July 11, 2008

  2. Welcome back, Denise! Yes, I’m having a great summer. No vacation or anything like that, but it’s going well so far.

    I’m glad you find Instant Impact Praise to be helpful. I don’t want it to take the place of real conversation, but as you know, it sure can have…well, an impact! (I knew there was a reason I called it that!) T.

    Comment by Tina | July 11, 2008

  3. I have a lot of trouble with praising at work, as you know. I feel uncomfortable with it and don’t know why, because I enjoy telling people they’re doing a good job. But, it seems that when I do praise someone I get an attitude from them about it, like, “Who cares what you think?” Or, that I’m being insincere, when I’m not. Sometimes I think I’m in the wrong line of work!

    Have a good week! P.

    P.S., I think your name should come before Blanchard’s name.

    Comment by P.A.H. | July 14, 2008

  4. Phyllis, Keep the Faith! You have challenges there, but have done well with them. I think you feel uncomfortable acting like The Great Approver, as though that puts you above everyone. But, you ARE higher in position and tenure..as well as in knowledge and skills, and others know it.

    One way to make praising and thanks be less snooty feeling is to smile big when you say it. When you praise someone without having facial expression, it can come across like, “I hate to say it, but that’s good work.” When you smile and put energy into it, it’s more like, “That is REALLY good work!”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Tina

    Comment by Tina | July 14, 2008

  5. Message #2, to Phyllis: Thank you also for the suggestion about my name being before Ken Blanchard’s. I thought about that, but didn’t want to hurt his feelings. 🙂 T.

    Comment by Tina | July 14, 2008

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