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  • Writer's pictureChristina

Public Praise, Client Feedback, Visibility, Consent | The Epistles of Christina

Updated: May 25

My dearest team leaders,


I hope this letter finds you all well; that your resourcefulness would carry you through all of your managerial challenges, and that your days be filled with a manageable amount of stress. You are all talented in your own ways.


I write with growing concern over the trend of publicly praising employees, often in a way that is reminiscent of a parent doting on their child for making poopies in the toilet for the first time.


While praise should be given when praise is due, it should never be given without consent, and it should never feel like you are ingenuously heaping praise on the team member.

Getting consent to praise someone, you ask, inconceivable!


There are many reasons why a team member might not want to be publicly praised. They might come from a collectivist culture, for example, which holds the needs of the team as a whole – higher than the needs of the individual. In this case, being praised separately from the team can be seen as a violation of their belief that one value each other as equal, rather than excelling in spite of the team.


They might not feel the work performed was up to their standards, and therefore being praised for the work is a challenge to their work ethic, they might not feel that their contribution was greater than others, they might be shy, they might be giants… the point is, there are many reasons why an individual might not consent to public praise, it’s always best to ask before assuming.


Instead, dear friends, I would like to offer two additional avenues of praise, that are frequently overlooked: visibility and client/user feedback.


When I discuss the importance of visibility, frequently the discussion tends towards ensuring that higher management sees the hard work that team members are doing, but I tell you, dear managers, there is a much more critical form of visibility; the visibility that you bring to your team.


That’s right, friends, acknowledging the hard work that the team puts in is so important, specifically, acknowledging the work, not the end result.


Years ago, I attended a friend’s wedding. At the wedding I had a lot of people say that I looked beautiful (a reflection of the end result) without any acknowledgment of how hard I worked to be that beautiful (a reflection of the work and process to get to the end result). The one compliment I remember was from the grandmother of the bride, who asked who did my hair and makeup because it was “absolutely darling,” how impressed she was that I did my own hair and makeup, and how I was “so chic” with my cashmere asymmetric shawl and dress. To this day I could probably recite the conversation verbatim. She complimented the end result, by praising me for the work that I put into it. It makes all the difference.


Further, user feedback and praise are highly underutilized motivational tools. People want to feel like they are making an impact, that their work matters, and that they play a vital part in the project.


I had a project where the team would be updating an office's infrastructure, to alleviate network issues that had been plaguing them for years. Our network specialist went in over the weekend spending 10+ hours across the two days, and on Monday, all of the client’s problems were gone. I received message after message heaping praise on the project team for what we did. Now, I could have just passed this on second-hand, but I knew how much work this one person put in, that he sacrificed his weekend, and I wanted to make sure that he had the opportunity to hear it all first-hand. We set up a meeting. The thanks he received was almost overwhelming, and while he tried to play it cool, you could tell that the praise reinvigorated him.


It is vital for the health of your team to understand their impact. When the client has praise for the team and their work, don’t pass it on second-hand, find a way to allow them to thank the team directly, if by video call, email, or in-person meeting; that first-hand feedback can mean the difference between someone who is burned out, and someone who has a renewed vitality and purpose.


Understanding the positive impact that visibility and client feedback can have on your team, as well as respecting requests to not be publicly praised can go a very long way in establishing trust between you and your team members. A trust that translates into a healthy work environment that benefits everyone.


Je vous souhaite la santé, le bonheur, et la prospérité,


Christina


Editor's Note: While insightful, we realize that the quality of the article doesn't meet the swearing-to-not ratio, which has become a respected standard here at Astutely Obtuse. We apologize for this and hope to make it right in future "The Epistles of Christina" features. For the time being, here is a montage of Gordon Ramsay Swearing


Author's Note: Bite me, Mike. For those readers who don't wish to hear Ramsay swearing, here is a compilation of baby elephants

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