Beyond “Great Job!” – Effective Encouragement

In a well-known publication on success and leadership, the author asserts that leaders should, “begin with praise and honest appreciation…Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise…,” and “use encouragement.”

If this sounds a little over-the-top to you as a sales manager, consider the fact that the author was Dale Carnegie, and the publication was his “Golden Rules for Success.” If you have read Carnegie, you know that he doesn’t stop there in his enthusiasm for encouragement.

If this feels unnatural to you, perhaps you, yourself, have not had enough encounters with genuine and effective encouragement, and have been getting by on high fives. The best sales managers know how to give encouragement that is meaningful and guides future motivation and behavior.

Here are three parts to effective encouragement that set it apart from the average “mom and apple pie” attempts:

  1. Observe and State: You are pleased with your team member’s performance but what did he or she do? Try thinking of a specific example and say, “When you made that last phone call I heard you respond to the client based on their value driver.”
  2. Personal Qualities: To your observation, add an explanation of what the observed behavior indicates about the person. Next you might add – “That shows real ability to think on your feet and put our recent sales methodology training into practice!”
  3. Benefit: Take your combined behavior and personal quality and explain why it is so valuable to the team, and to you personally. “This will help you act as an example for the other team members, and boosts my confidence in bringing you on this project.” Notice that adding the benefit goes a long way to motivating the person to continue this same behavior, and also communicates the type of benefit you hope to continue to see – having a good influence on the team.

Let’s end with some encouragement for you, the reader. By setting aside the time to read this blog you are building your skills as a manager or as an individual contributor. That shows dedication and passion for your career, and you will strengthen your team and work culture through this practice.

So, continue to favor your bias to be an encourager!

Happy Selling!