I meet a lot of managers who confuse praise with affirming feedback.
Affirming feedback is a tool used to:
- make someone aware of a specific behaviour or action that they have taken,
- understand specifically the positive nature of the impacts of that behaviour or action,
- increase the chances of further examples of that behaviour or action in the future.
Affirming feedback is a powerful tool primarily for influencing future behaviour.
Praise on the other hand is about the past. It is about ensuring that someone feels recognised and valued for something that they have done. It is usually MUCH less specific than feedback and sometimes given with much less clear intent. It is just as powerful as affirming feedback and effective praise should be encouraged.
However, praise is not without its risks. If praise is:
- ill timed
- diluted or over-inflated
It can certainly do more harm than good. For more on the problems of praise read this post.