When you do have something nice to say, say it out loud! This was the No. 1 request from those surveyed for this article. It seems we are always in search of approval from our bosses, not just as reflection of a job well done, but because we're human and that's part of how we've learned to thrive within a community, even if that community is our 9-to-5 office.
Dole out those compliments readily whether it's for their crisp handwriting, the improved schedule that took them a couple of hours or that sale that took them several months to close. The specificity is why employees value this more than a generic message like "Great job, team." Don't be afraid to give compliments even for something not work-related, like a new haircut (always be careful about crossing that line with harassment though!)
When you give your employees credit for their work, the acknowledgement encourages them to continue working at that level and higher. Positive reinforcement isa proven motivator. Think back to how good it felt to work for someone who believed in you and who told you they did. Being engaged in your employees' work and in your employees themselves is not just good etiquette; it's what separates the good bosses from the bad and the ugly.