How to Foster Talent: Praise, Raise and Amaze | Bruce Kasanoff

How to Foster Talent: Praise, Raise and Amaze

Want to bring out the best talent in your employees and colleagues? Take three words to heart: praise, raise, and amaze…

There’s no feedback as welcome as positive feedback, and the closer you deliver feedback to the action that warranted it, the more effective and memorable.

Try this: run up to a colleague right after a presentation and say, “That was fantastic! I especially liked it when you…”

The faster and more specific you are with praise, the more impact it will have. In this way, the person can process your feedback at the very same moment they are processing the feeling of doing what you are praising.

On winter weekends, I coach young skiers. To the greatest extent possible, I praise them at the exact moment their body is in the correct position. For example, I’ll have them ski past me in a mogul field, and will yell out feedback as they bend their knees properly to absorb a bump or push their body forward when the terrain steepens.

Likewise, when someone sends me something they have written, I try to respond as quickly as possible; the longer I take, the less they think I care.

Once you assume responsibility for fostering talent, you have an obligation to clear a path for the growth of others. This is a complicated role, but to generalize it entails a variety of actions that reduce friction as each person seeks to raise themselves up in career terms.

For those who lack confidence, you must help them develop it over time. You must also help them summon the courage to take risks, perhaps before they are totally comfortable.

For those brimming over with confidence, you must find safe ways to expose them to the realities of what they face ahead. Don’t let an overconfident colleague get crushed; instead, provide them with a realistic glimpse of the challenges ahead, so their competence can keep up with their confidence.

For all, your challenge is to provide opportunities for meaningful growth. Nothing stifles talent more than the perceived lack of opportunity.

There are few truisms I like more than: great managers bring ordinary people together to do amazing things.

If you can amaze people at the results they produce, you can bring out talents they never suspected they had. The best way to do this is to bring them together behind a common goal, and to ensure that all recognize their strength lies in their diversity.

We are not employees, managers, owners or executives. We are human beings with an endless variety of strengths and weaknesses. No one – including you – knows what is possible, so do whatever you can to open the door to amazing possibilities.

For those who prefer to listen rather than read, here’s a 50-second version of praise, raise and amaze…

Bruce Kasanoff is the author of How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk. He offers you a free PDF of the entire book, on this condition: if you find it valuable, you agree to buy a copy onAmazon as a gift for someone else. This “pay it forward” approach honors the spirit of the book.

Find Bruce at or on Twitter @BruceKasanoff.

Image: trudeau/Flickr