Letting your employees know they're doing a great job affects everything from productivity to morale

Today's workplace is riddled with deadlines, stress, and high expectations. Employees are pushing themselves hard to do great things and managers, recognizing that excellence is non-negotiable, find their roles expanding beyond task delegation. 

At the end of the day, employers want more than just completed assignments; they want a workforce that exceeds expectations. Recognizing the dedication and achievements of employees isn't merely an act of courtesy – it's a strategic investment in the company's success. The power of a genuine compliment can often be underestimated, but under the surface of tasks and responsibilities lies a fundamental truth: recognition matters. 

The simple act of acknowledging and appreciating an employee's efforts can improve motivation, job satisfaction, and overall performance. In this article, you'll learn how just telling your staff “great job” can unlock the potential for a more successful team. In fact, we'll teach you myriad ways to compliment your employees. 

“You're doing a great job!”

It's amazing that so simple a phrase can have such a profound impact on employee morale and motivation, but it does. When it's used sincerely, “great job” is more than words - it reinforces behaviors and fosters a sense of accomplishment among staff. The term “positive workplace” gets thrown around a lot in today's workspaces. Praise and recognition go a long way to fostering that type of environment. 


Let's put some misconceptions about the phrase “great job” to rest. Many people feel that simply telling someone “great job” is overly generic and lacks authenticity, but when it's delivered correctly, with specificity and context, it becomes a tailored acknowledgment of someone's contributions to team and company success. It lets the employee know that their efforts have been recognized.

Telling someone “great job” shouldn't be reserved only for extraordinary achievements. It's a versatile compliment that works to recognize someone for big and small accomplishments. By offering consistent encouragement and praise to staff members, leaders can build a culture of continuous improvement, because employees want to hear they're doing a “great job” more than once. 

When you lead a team, you can even say “great job” in a results-oriented environment. Just because there will be future rewards for tangible outcomes, doesn't mean that positive feedback along the way should be withheld. On the contrary, it only serves to improve staff motivation and overall job satisfaction. Happy employees are productive employees. 

Simplicity at its finest

When you realize that the phrase “great job” has meaning beyond the surface, you can begin to use it with precision and ensure that it delivers the impact you want. At its core, “great job” is a recognition of effort that acknowledges hard work, dedication, and skill. Beyond that, it serves as a motivator to encourage the recipient to consistently deliver their best. 

Top tips

The great thing about “great job” is that it's versatile. It can be adapted to situations and accomplishments and can be tailored to each context, making it more meaningful. Here are some examples and top tips for when to praise your employees for a great job:

Specificity: Perhaps you had a team member come up with a creative solution to a problem. You could specify the effort within the context of providing the compliment by saying “Great job on solving that tough problem with [whatever the solution was].”

Timely: Of course, you can tell someone they did a great job on something whenever you want, but when you acknowledge their achievement immediately, the impact is more profound.

Context: “Great job” can be used whether your coworker completed a major project or is working through ongoing efforts. Additionally, you can use the compliment for both personal and team contributions. 

Alternatives to “great job”

Saying “great job” over and over again will get boring and will lose its luster. So, it's a good idea to adjust the vocabulary of your compliments, depending on what's going on or what has happened. Here are some “great job” quotes you can use as alternatives:

  • Exceptional work: “I want to express my sincere appreciation for your work on [specific task].”

  • Outstanding performance: “Your consistent commitment to excellence doesn't go unnoticed, it actually sets a high standard for the rest of the team.”

  • Remarkable achievement: “Congratulations on getting past the first milestone of that project.”

  • Impressive growth: “You've demonstrated exceptional growth in balancing competing priorities on multiple projects, which has really improved your ability to meet deadlines and make clients happy.”

  • Innovative thinking: “Your innovative approach to problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking brings fresh perspectives and continues to elevate our projects”

  • Creative excellence: “The pioneering solution you came up with on that last project was a driving force for our team's success.”

  • Collaborative excellence: “Your collaborative spirit and willingness to support team members is making a significant impact on team achievements.”

  • Resilient performance: “Your ability to overcome obstacles and maintain high standards is an inspiration to those around you.”

  • Adaptable excellence: “I want to express my gratitude for your ability to navigate change and deliver outstanding results.”

The main idea with incorporating these alternative phrases is that you specifically acknowledge the contributions of your team members and highlight the unique qualities that set them apart from others. Adjusting your language in delivering the compliment underscores the fact that you have a genuine understanding of your team member's contribution. 

Motivating teams through collective recognition

“Great job” isn't only for individual accomplishments; it can be used to recognize the collective accomplishments of a team. When you shift the focus from singular achievements to collaborative efforts, you start to build up team morale and facilitate unity and shared success. Not only that, but recognizing team efforts helps to build up a culture of inclusivity because it reinforces that every team member's contribution is valued. 

Shared purpose

Pride may be one of the seven deadly sins, but when using “great job team” as an acknowledgment of team achievements, you'll end up with a team that takes pride in the work they do. They all share a sense of purpose in attaining broader organizational goals, because they gain an understanding of how their efforts contribute to the company's mission. On top of that, when a team is focused on acquiring acknowledgment as a group, they tend to offer mutual support to each other. 

Milestones and progress

Avoid leaving the recognition of team efforts to the end of a project. There are always opportunities for marking achievements when quarterly targets are reached or milestones are achieved. When you continually compliment your team on their achievements, they are instilled with the encouragement they need to tackle the next challenge and keep moving forward.

The strategy behind tailoring compliments

Whether you want to provide a “great job” compliment to an individual or a team, the first step in doing so successfully involves understanding individual preferences. Some of your staff may not like public acknowledgments of success. Instead, they prefer to receive private praise. When you align the delivery of “great job” with someone's preference for receiving it, it'll pack a more powerful punch and shine a light on your ability to be considerate in your approach to employees and team leadership.

Key takeaways:

  • Be specific

  • Express emotion

  • Connect praise to impact

  • Vary your vocabulary

  • Personalize your praise

How to respond to being told “great job”

It's one thing to give a compliment, it's another thing altogether to receive one. Whether you get nervous when someone praises your work or are open to getting compliments, it's critical that you accept it graciously and professionally. Take a moment to reflect on your recent contributions or achievements:

  • Did you solve a problem?

  • Did you do something that brought your team together?

  • Did you come up with a way to make things run more smoothly?

No matter what it was, identifying it will help you to leverage or improve those strengths for future assignments. 

What should you say?

Instead of proffering a flippant “thanks,” try to be more gracious and sincere. After all, you want to receive future compliments, right? Here are some example responses to receiving a “great job” acknowledgment:

  • Be sincere: “Thank you. I appreciate the recognition.”

  • Acknowledge the team: “It was a team effort and a testament to their dedication.”

  • Share the credit: “Thank you. I couldn't have done it without Sarah. Her help was invaluable!”

  • Be joyful: “Wow, that really made my day! Thank you for recognizing my efforts.”

  • Be specific: “I'm glad you noticed the attention to detail in creating that database. It was tough, but your acknowledgement means the world to me.”
  • Look to the future: “I appreciate the recognition! I'm committed to maintaining this level of excellence in upcoming projects.”

Frequently asked questions

You already know that bestowing praise – or receiving praise - can boost morale and encourage a positive company culture. The bottom line is that you should be open about giving compliments, but what do you do if saying “great job” isn't as open and shut as we've talked about here? Let's go through some frequently asked questions that address some scenarios.

1. How do I praise someone for their effort even if the outcome wasn't successful?

You know, sometimes people do their best and still fall short of the goal. That doesn't mean you should withhold compliments on their efforts. When you let someone know they did a great job even though the result wasn't what was expected, you emphasize a commitment to being dedicated and persevering. It also provides a teachable moment that failures can be learning opportunities. 

2. How often should I hand out “great job” compliments?

There is no hard and fast rule for how often you tell someone they're doing well, because of how many factors go into determining the frequency of giving our praise. Of course, you want to balance regularity with sincerity. If you're the type of leader who tells your employees “great job” every time they get anything right, then it loses its appeal. Don't forget, though, that it's important to celebrate both small victories and big wins.

3. How do I praise remote or geographically dispersed team members?

It seems like it would be more difficult to praise staff members who aren't under the same roof as you, but it's still very doable. There are a ton of digital messaging platforms that can be used to deliver personalized messages. You can also use collaboration platforms or host a virtual event to praise a team for achieving a goal. Don't forget the power of the postal service – you can always send a physical token of appreciation through the mail. 

4. Can I tell someone “great job” even if I'm not in a leadership role?

Yes! If you're in a position to reinforce someone's work or achievement, then do so even if your position isn't leadership. Think about how much you like to receive praise and recognition. Does it always have to come from a manager? When team members give each other compliments, you reinforce the concept of being in a collaborative and supportive environment that favors inclusivity. 

5. Can constructive feedback be included with praise? 

Absolutely, but be careful that your feedback doesn't overshadow the praise. You don't want to lose any positive ground you acquire by being negative. If there's something your team member can do to enhance their work, then feel free to tell them. When done properly, feedback with praise can create a culture of continuous improvement. 

Recognition breeds success

The key thing you should walk away with is that the phrase “great job” is more than a nicety. Praising staff members and teams for their work has a far-reaching impact on everything from company culture to overall organizational success. If you want to work in a hub of positivity, collaboration, and continuous improvement, then you should embrace the concept of sincerely complimenting employees frequently.

While you're building your “great job” vocabulary, take a moment to check out some of the other career advice we have available for you. You're certain to find something that will empower you to create the career of your dreams. When you're ready to move on, why not submit your resume for our free resume review?

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