You did a great job today.

Amidst all the challenges that tugged at your productivity, you overcame and achieved.

You made the right call, scheduled the right tech, ordered the proper equipment, limited your crew’s time on the clock, and gained a signature from the owner of that new downtown commercial kitchen.

Over the last several years, you navigated the Great Recession, never missed a pay period, continued to serve the customer better than your competition, and, above all, your business is still standing strong.

You deserve a pat on the back, so, here it is.

Feels good, doesn’t it? Perhaps your accomplishments aren’t being honored often enough. What about the guys and gals with their boots on the ground. Are they gaining the recognition they deserve?


If you want someone to do something again, tell them how well they did it the first time. That was the widespread message of renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner.

Skinner, who held a post at Harvard University from 1958 to 1974, performed many studies and executed various research projects documenting how repeat behavior is immediately reinforced with value. He determined that psychological reinforcement urged individuals to repeat a certain behavior.

And, while you can’t give pay increases out like kid-sized Milky Way bars at Halloween, casual complements cost nothing. The return on investment is priceless as Skinner’s studies acknowledge well-executed reinforcement helps improve self-confidence, enhances motivation, increases productivity, boosts enthusiasm, and more.


As leaders, we’re oftentimes quicker to correct employees for wrongdoing, because, let’s face it, mistakes scream louder than jobs well done.

As a manager, a great way to offer reinforcement is through self-assessment. Ask an employee how he or she thought a recent job went. Ask her what she did very well. Ask her what she could have been done better. Dig into the situation and encourage others on your squad to follow in the successful employee’s footsteps. Chime in and offer suggestions when necessary and acknowledge a job well done, as well. During a staff meeting, recognize an individual’s successful actions in front of your team. Let everyone know how well this person did and that you appreciate his or her efforts. Give him or her a $50 card to Home Depot.

Self-assessment also allows you to determine if an employee understands his job responsibilities. If he misses something during this conversation, make sure you promptly remind him of the misstep. Simply because he fails to execute a step doesn’t mean he doesn’t know to do it. He may just need a friendly reminder.

One thing to keep in mind — try to avoid favoritism. If it appears you’re sweet talking one individual at every opportunity, perhaps it’s time to provide that individual more complex challenges. Or provide praise in a private setting. Showering one employee with too much attention may cause jealousy inside the building, granting you the direct opposite affect you were going for.


During busy times, which most of you are neck-deep in right now, these types of interactions are easy to skip. But, when employees are run ragged, an ‘Atta boy goes a long way for morale.

So, remember, give credit where it’s due; let people know how cherished they are. It feels good to be valued. And, just as you need to hear it, so do those who work for you.

Telling someone “I’m blown away by your creativity,” “You have such original ideas,” or “You’re way more talented than you give yourself credit for” is the glue that’ll keep your team committed and productive for years to come.

Publication date: 8/24/2015