Being praised is a genuine human need! It is a need that must be met on a regular basis.
The key to developing people will always be to concentrate on letting them know when they are doing something right instead of waiting until they do something wrong.
Yet there are so many managers who barely interact with their staff until they find something to criticise them for.
As part of goal/objective setting be sure to let your staff know that you will give positive and constructive feedback on how well they are doing. Then there are two key things you need to emphasise when giving praise.
First, be immediate. Don't save praise for the annual appraisal. Giving immediate praise is motivational and encouraging. Leaving praise until the end of the year or reporting period can make an employee feel undervalued. Imagine not hearing a 'well done' or a 'thank you for doing ABC...' for months!
Second, be specific. Just saying, "Good job!" is fine but it is not particularly helpful because the staff member will not specifically know what was good about their performance. Explain why something was good, what value was added and who benefitted. That way people will understand what was good and know what practice or behaviour is worth repeating when the opportunity next arises.
Being specific also ensures that the praise is sincere. Whilst saying "Good job" maybe sincere, because it is generic or 'bland' the employee has no way of knowing if the manager even knows what work the employee does or how hard the employee had to work in order to deliver the task! Being specific clears up any ambiguity; it says 'I recognise the value of the work you have just done; I can see the effort you put in to meet that deadline' and so on. Being specific adds weight to the 'well done'!
And remember no one is perfect. If you wait for perfection before you praise, you could be creating a very negative environment for people who report to you. Praise incrementally, praise what is good, when it's good. Praise because it is part of your job as a manager, supervisor, or team leader to encourage others to be their best.
Source: Total Success
For more information see Gallup Research on praising employees