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The Power of “Good Job”

June 20, 2016 No Comments

One of the more significant lessons I’ve learned as a working adult is the strength of the phrase “Good job!” Both in giving and withholding. Now let me be clear: I don’t have to be coddled as an employee. I’ll work hard and do my job well whether or not someone is giving me praise. That being said, I do believe it’s important to let your people know that their hard work is recognized.


For example, my first job out of college was for an organization I worked for as a student. I loved the organization, loved working there, and was thrilled to be hired on in a supervisory role after graduation. I was going to co-manage a department with a guy who had been given a ton of responsibility and needed someone to split it with. He actually had been my boss for a semester while I was a student, and I was now an equal with him and also the boss to some guys who had been my shift supervisors from that semester. It was an interesting role reversal.

The work was fun, challenging, stressful, rewarding, and always changing. It helped me develop in a lot of ways. One of the challenges, though, was not being acknowledged in my role. My employees were great and came to me as their boss. The trouble was with a handful of other people in management. A lot of people thought I was hired as my co-manager’s assistant, which he was quick to correct. He constantly told people, “Don’t ask me, you need to ask Katie.” I’m always grateful for him and the respectful way he treated me.

After working there for over a year, we were in a big meeting with all of the other managers and our bosses. The director was speaking and he began talking about our department and how much it had grown and was a huge asset to the organization. My little heart was full of pride as I listened to him praise our department. We had worked really hard. Then he said, “  {insert my co-manager’s name}  has done a phenomenal job with it” and moved on.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. A couple of people I knew gave sideways glances towards me. I could feel that my co-manager was uncomfortable.

I’m just gonna…okaybye      via GIPHY

But mostly, nobody batted an eye. To me, it felt like they all still thought I was his secretary after all I had done to try to prove myself. I don’t hold any ill feelings towards the director, I think he’s amazing, but it hurt. Bad. It also taught me that I didn’t want to make anyone ever feel like that. My staff worked very hard–our department was a little hectic in nature and they did a fantastic job of dealing with the crazy. From then on, I tried to be more aware of letting my employees know that I appreciated them. I do hope they felt that.

Within the year, I left that job and we moved out-of-state for a new employment opportunity. My desk was near my new boss and on my first day he heard one of my conversations and called over, “That was great!” My interviews had been over the phone and one of the interviewers came by my desk and said, “I just wanted to let you know how impressed we were with you. I really wanted to end up being your boss, but he got you instead.” I sat at my desk and thought, “Holy cow, is this what it feels like to have your boss tell you you’re doing good?”

It’s remarkable how much of an impact it makes in employee morale, but it also goes beyond work. I work at a high school now and a few months ago a kid came up to me and said, “Check it out, I got this token for being clean for 30 days!” He was beaming. I had spoken to him once before for 5 seconds, but shoot–I was proud of him! So I told him. I can’t imagine how much my marriage would struggle if my husband and I never told each other when we thought they were doing a good job. My baby claps and laughs now when we tell her, “You did so good!” for all the little things she’s learning. Even at church I can see the appreciation when someone is told, “Great lesson” after Sunday School.

I don’t believe we should BS people and tell them they’re doing so great when they’re not, but I do believe people do lots of good things that can be acknowledged. That goes for family, friends, co-workers, your boss, your waiter, etc. Take the time to be aware of what’s good around you and let people know! You don’t need to be in a position of authority to make someone feel good, but I’ve never met a person like that who I didn’t look up to.


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