Why do it?
As the face of your team and their work, it’s common to receive more of the credit (and more of the blame) than you might deserve. Making a point to spotlight your direct reports’ efforts when you get praise for the team’s work is not only hugely motivating but it will also help your high performers gain visibility and build their reputations with people up and across the organization.
How to do it:
- When you hear positive feedback about an area you are responsible for, thank the other person and let them know you will pass it on to your team.
Doing this simultaneously acknowledges the feedback you’ve just heard and signals to the other person that it’s more than you who deserve the credit. For example:
“I’m glad to hear the launch of the new registration system is getting a positive response. The team worked really hard on it. I’ll be sure to pass the compliment on to them.”
- If appropriate, share with the other person how a direct report (or several of them) contributed to this outcome.
There were likely many small wins made along the way to this success. Call them out specifically because that may be the only way someone outside of your team will hear about what went into your team’s work. For example:
“In particular, I’m really proud of the design work Charlene did on the form layout and flow. She created such a smooth customer experience.”
- Also consider sharing a brief story, if you have one, about a challenge your direct report (or team) encountered and what they did to overcome it.
It’s easy for higher-ups who see the finished product but often aren’t involved in the process to underestimate what it takes to get something done. Being transparent about the problems your team faced and how they solved them shows others a truer picture of how your team does its best work.
- Relay the compliment and conversation to the appropriate person or people on your team.
If the exchange didn’t happen in front of your team, be sure to tell your direct reports about the praise they received. Highlight relevant details of the conversation and the specific shout-outs you gave:
“Charlene, I want to pass along a compliment. Sandi was praising our prelaunch work today, and I told her about the work you did to make the form such a smooth experience. I also shared some of the issues you had to resolve to finish it on time, and she was impressed.”
Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team.
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