The best encouragement is often free

An authentic expression of gratitude for a great accomplishment can be hugely motivating. The best rewards are immediate, personalized and unexpected. “Correction does much, but encouragement does more”, said the writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


Every company gives financial rewards to their employees for great work and great results. But you also need a way of giving employees praise for what they do, rewards that are mostly non-financial.

As a matter of fact, it has been shown that the more creative a job is the less people are motivated by financial rewards. So, you need to give them the praise, the direct praise that can come from a boss, or the boss’s boss, the teams around you, or any colleague.

There’s a rule of three when giving rewards.

  • Number one, they should be immediate.
  • Number two, they should be unexpected.
  • Number three, they should be individualized or personalized.

So, this means that if somebody is doing something great and you immediately thank them when they are least expecting it. You thank them in a way that’s personalized, that has the most positive effect on anybody.

So, think about how you can do this, how you can act quickly. Don’t wait until a quarterly review or a monthly review. Do it immediately.

Think of what will make that particular person happy or feel appreciated. It can be a gift card, it can be a book, it can be flowers, it can be anything.

It doesn’t have to be something physical. It can be a very well-written, deeply written thank you note, that shows that you understand what they are doing and then that is personalized, it’s unexpected and it comes as quickly as possible.

When you do this, you encourage great behavior and you encourage people to give praise and feedback to others as well.

When you give positive feedback, it also means that the moments when you have to give negative feedback, it will be very well received. Because they know that it’s coming in balance, it’s genuine and authentic.

Goethe said it in a very clear way. Correction does much, but encouragement does more.

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