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Encouragement and praise are two very different things; in fact, the two words should never be used interchangeably. In a work environment, adequately encouraged employees will put their best efforts into a task, in which case they will get praised when they succeed. However, empty praises can never be used as encouragement because they sound hollow and insincere.

One of the most important characters a leader should have is the ability to encourage and empower others, particularly in times of doubt and moments of difficulty. Here are three powerful ways that you can support your staff and empower them to perform.

1. Ask: “What Do You Need?”

This may be hard to believe, but sometimes a simple question such as “what do you need” or “how can I help you” may be all it takes to encourage an employee to give his best. Lethargy and poor attitude towards work sometimes creep up, but a powerful question can be enough to jog an employee to his or her best.

It is also important to time such a question properly by observing the employee’s behavior, body language, and choice of words. An observant manager or employer should be able to pull an employee out of frustration by showing genuine willingness to make their work more comfortable by providing whatever they need at work.

2. Recognize All Their Small Wins

Small wins do not necessarily have to be achieving a set sales goal, or finishing work earlier than scheduled; in some cases, it can be a positive behavior change, mastery of a simple skill, or just a positive mindset at work.

A manager who recognizes the positive change in their employees’ demeanor or attitude reinforces the signs of progress and inspires the employee to do more of whatever they did. A simple secret is not to wait for the big wins to shower praise on a team member; even the smallest triumphs deserve recognition.

3. Demonstrate Confidence in Their Capabilities

Make it a habit to say “Thank you” to your team members. Research findings published on Huff Post reveals that employers and managers who thank and praise their employees at work are up to six times more likely to achieve their work targets compared to those who do not.

Appreciation of a team member’s efforts goes a long way to demonstrate that you have confidence in their skills and abilities and fosters a close relationship that ultimately benefits both parties and the organization at large.