Learning and development professionals have to cover a lot of topics to ensure that employees are equipped to do their jobs now and in the future. But training on how to say “thank you”? Really?

Some of the most innovative companies offer training to their managers on how to give effective recognition to their staff. Likewise, firms are showing all employees how to better recognize their colleagues.

Call it creating a culture of praise. Letting workers know you value them is one of the simplest – yet most impactful – ways an employer can keep valued employees. But it’s not just something that’s nice to do. It’s a make-or-break point for many professionals. Sixty-six percent of the workers polled for a recent survey said they were likely to leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated. And retention isn’t the only reason for giving positive feedback. It also plays a major role in motivation, engagement and performance.

What’s the “curriculum” for training on giving thanks? Here are five tips for working with your company’s managers and employees to improve recognition efforts:

1. Commit to Timeliness.

It’s fine to hand out kudos during monthly meetings or the annual all-company confab, but make sure those aren’t the only times managers thank their employees. Praise is most powerful when it’s given shortly after someone hits the figurative ball out of the park. The immediacy boosts self-esteem and confidence and sets people up for success as they move on to their next project.

2. Praise With Precision.

The goal of giving positive feedback is to inspire a repeat performance. It’s much easier when people know exactly what actions you’re applauding. So, instruct supervisors to name the specifics rather than giving generic comments like, “Good job on that report.” Provide examples to managers on how to give effective, concrete kudos like, “I really appreciate how you double-checked the figures in the annual report, which led you to catch several mistakes that would’ve been very embarrassing had they been published. The company is thankful for your dedication and attention to detail.”

3. Share the Love.

It’s all too easy to celebrate the slam dunk but ignore the supporting players who passed the ball to the star. When recognizing performance, be sure to remind managers and other employees to call out everyone who played a role. Instead of breeding resentment, thanking all those involved reinforces the values of fairness, teamwork and inclusivity.

4. Promote Recognition Offerings.

If your company has a formal recognition program, train managers on how to maximize the effectiveness of these initiatives. Teach them how to submit nominations and spread the word about the award. Their involvement and excitement set an example for those reporting to them. Don’t forget, of course, to provide training on the program to all employees as well.

5. Educate on Incentives.

Make sure leaders are aware of all the methods available to them to recognize employees. Offering verbal praise is important. Verbal praise with a token of appreciation (such as a thank-you note or certificate) is even better. Let managers know if they can hand out gift cards when someone goes above and beyond, reward staff with paid time off, or treat a winning team to lunch.

Good employees deserve to feel appreciated. Your role as a learning and development professional should include helping your organization’s managers create a culture of recognition.

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