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How do you feel when someone tells you “You are doing a fantastic job.”

How about when you are congratulated, thanked, and bragged about?

I try to be an attentive boss and give compliments and affirmation as soon as I see the need. When someone wins a zoning approval before a contentious commission, they deserved a pat on the back and I want to be the first one to give it to them. When we are awarded a large design project, the team who worked for that victory needs to be immediately recognized for their effort and upper management is the appropriate place for that to come. Likewise, when we complete a project on time and under budget, the team that worked hard to make that a reality deserves positive affirmation.

What has caught my attention today is the suggestion that we need to make sure we give everyone positive affirmation.

Most businesses operate in a competitive environment and they need the best from their employees. The more star performers you have the better competitive advantage you will have.

But not every operation is full of star performers; not everyone has the same skill set. Hence, often times it is the same few star performers who get the accolades and affirmations because they are the ones succeeding at a high level.

So, as some business management experts suggest, why should I tell someone who cannot seem to complete their work on time or under budget that they are doing a great job? Would I be lying to them? Would I be giving them false impressions about their job performance? Should they be allowed to think that their performance is acceptable or even outstanding when it is not?

To answer my questions, I have looked at giving affirmations from three perspectives.

Substandard Employees

The first perspective is from the substandard employee. If an employee is truly substandard-losing money and wasting time-then their time as one of your employees should be short.

Get rid of them.

On the other hand, if you think they have some value, then invest time in them. Teach them how to manage and find ways to praise what they do. By no means should you ever praise and employee for something they did wrong or did not do.

Star Employees

The second perspective is from the super-star employees who receives all the praise. Not to make you paranoid, but your competition has their eyes on this person.

You need to take all reasonable steps to make sure this employee calls your company home.

And the worst thing you can do is to elevate non-performing employees to this person’s level. Once you start heaping praise on everyone (everyone gets a trophy regardless if you won or lost concept), then your star performers will be heading for the door and all you will have left is a team of marginal performers.


The third perspective is that of God. God wants to be the affirming voice you hear that is compelling you forward in all aspects of your life, not just our work life. Palm 23:1 says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” He also said, “we are God’s masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10). His voice and His directions are infinitely more important than the comments or praises of any earthly boss.

God also commanded us to care for each other.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

As a boss or manager, your affirmations need to be tailored to help all those you supervise. You’re not to deceive or lie to anyone, but to teach and council all your employees.

Wear the praises you distribute on your sleeve; be ready to justify to anyone why certain employees receive praise and why others did not. Do not lose perspective that your job is to motivate all your employees to excel in their job. Praise and affirmation needs to be given for large success as well as small victories.

God wants you to provide affirmation to all your employees. The affirmations, however are not all equal. You need star performers to grow your business. You also need team players to support your business. And they all deserve your attention.

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