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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

16 effective ways to praise your team for their great work

If you want your praise to make a positive impact on your team, you have to be consistent, and you need to spread it around.

16 effective ways to praise your team for their great work
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]
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Employees want to feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work. Many studies have shown the positive impact of praise on employee happiness and productivity. But it’s not enough to only recognize large milestones or focus on the major players in a companywide project.

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It’s important to find ways both small and large to regularly recognize a job well done. You can learn a lot about your company and team—and give morale a big boost—by looking for positive moments and thoughtful ways to praise. Below, 16 Fast Company Executive Board members reveal effective ways to praise team members for their ongoing great work.

1. KEEP A RUNNING LIST OF SUCCESSES.

For complex initiatives, keep a running list of “wow” moments and who was involved. Ask your direct reports to do the same. Beyond acknowledging the wows in real time, you can up the culture glue with the following: When the project is complete and it’s celebration time, replay those moments with detail. You’ll ignite the power of visceral recall, and folks will know they’ve been truly seen. – Tevis Trower, Balance Integration Corporation

2. FOCUS ON THE DETAILS.

One way to praise teams is to notice the details and the effort that went into their work and then commend them on a job well done. It’s important to be genuine and authentic in the enthusiasm that you show in your voice. – Laura Kerbyson, Laura Kerbyson Design Company

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3. BE SPECIFIC.

Make sure that you let them know exactly what you appreciated about their work. Your team can tell when you’re being genuine and when you’re using corporate speak. Tell them exactly what you liked, why you liked it, and that you appreciate the effort they put into it. Specific praise like that will carry a lot more weight than just saying, “You’re doing a good job in general.” – Jason Hall, Five Channels

4. TRUST THEM.

Praise can show up in many forms. Some praise is public—like awards, accolades in newsletters, and meetings with senior leaders—and some praise happens simply, through offline conversations. The most powerful form of praise and recognition comes through trust. When leaders have the confidence in their teams (and themselves) to trust that they will do the right thing, productivity and engagement increase dramatically. – Simone Ahuja, Blood Orange

5. DEDICATE TIME TO CELEBRATING WINS.

We have a section built into our weekly team meeting called “Kudos/Shoutouts.” Since we are a large team and interact with each other in very different capacities, this is an opportunity to recognize one another. Each kudos has to be specific and directly linked to one of our core values. It is great seeing the smiles from team members who both give and receive recognition. – Andrew Miller, Agorapulse

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6. SHOWCASE GREAT WORK.

Providing a platform for employees to showcase their creative work with their peers and with the company more broadly is a really effective way to celebrate a job well done. It also allows employees to help others in the organization understand the role they play in overall company success. – Jessica Thorpe, gen.video

7. ELABORATE ON THE DETAILS.

The best kind of praise is genuine and specific. Saying, “Good job” or, “Well done” is nice, but if it’s thrown around when it’s not really warranted, then the power is diluted. Taking the time to share what was so impactful and appreciated about the work will have a much larger impact. Add detail and show that you see their work and their contributions! – Alexandra Cavoulacos, The Muse

8. ASK FOR THEIR OPINIONS.

It all starts by verbalizing the great work they’ve done and how they contributed to the company. Simply saying, “Great work!” or, “Amazing job!” can make a difference. Next, ask them to contribute their stake in solving a problem in the company. By doing so, you recognize their capability and acknowledge that they have what it takes. – Lane Kawaoka, SimplePassiveCashflow.com

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9. VALIDATE POSITIVE ACTIONS.

One simple principle we often forget about when leading others is to validate what you want more of. If somebody does something you want them to do, validate them. A quick, straightforward acknowledgment can be powerful. If we only indicate dissatisfaction and never indicate satisfaction, our teams are missing half of the feedback we could be giving them as leaders. – Ryan Anderson, Filevine

10. PRAISE PUBLICLY.

I’m a big fan of linking praise with company values and making it public. We recently had a team member identify a problem outside of her scope and miss a wedding rehearsal to ensure the issue didn’t impact delivering our life-saving therapy to the patient who needed it. I was able to recognize the team member in front of her peers and express how her actions reflected two of our core values. – Rami Elghandour, Arcellx, Inc.

11. WRITE THANK YOU NOTES.

A handwritten note should always be a consideration. It is imperative to remember that members of an organization develop organizational culture from social exercises. These are considered socially produced truths that exist for an organization’s members. These truths include the organization’s policies, procedures, and reactions to given situations. Culture is an evolutionary process. – Will Conaway, The HCI Group (A Tech Mahindra Company)

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12. SHARE KUDOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

We always give praise to our employees during our monthly all-hands meetings, but we have started giving Kudos on LinkedIn as well. Not only is it public praise, but because Kudos is a relatively new feature, they seem to get a fair amount of visibility and engagement. This is great for the employee and for the company. It’s also something they can pin to the “featured” section of their profile. – Viveka Von Rosen, Vengreso

13. ENCOURAGE MUTUAL PRAISE.

Mutual praise is part of our culture, and one thing that works for our team is acknowledging each other’s contributions in front of everybody else. Every Monday, we have an organizationwide check-in Zoom call in which we discuss company updates and give team kudos to one another for a job well done. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

14. GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE.

We always make sure the client knows who was responsible for a great idea. It’s ingrained in the language we use: We’ll drop words like “genius” or “revolutionary” in presentations. We also require the employees’ names to be on the patents, not only their managers’. – Phnam Bagley, Nonfiction Design

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15. REMEMBER SUPPORTING TEAM MEMBERS. 

Many times recognition is only for major milestones and tangible achievements, leaving the people doing the supporting work unlikely to see that praise. Recognizing the hands that have touched a success from start to finish can be a great way to make sure everyone can share the limelight. – Noah Mitsuhashi, Portfolio Insider

16. BE AUTHENTIC AND CONSISTENT.

Avoid praising those who “phone it in.” This jeopardizes the authenticity of your acknowledgment. On the other hand, don’t store up recognition; it’s not a secret, and it shouldn’t be saved for later. Positive feedback is equally as important as constructive feedback. If someone has stretched their comfort zone or performed in a valuable way, say something! – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training