Management Myth 24: People Don’t Need External Credit


You Can’t Over-Appreciate People
An appreciation is a personalized thank-you. It works quite well for individuals. Don’t use it for teams. It loses its power when you try to use it for multiple people at once.

Here is a form of an appreciation:

<First name>, I appreciate you for <specific thing the person did>. It gave me <specific benefit to me>.

You can see that an appreciation, given in private one at a time to specific people, is a powerful way to reinforce the behavior you find valuable.

Here, Robert could say to Cheryl, “Cheryl, I appreciate you for the courage it took to say this to me. It allowed me to fix this before it became a huge problem and blew up in my face. Thank you for having my back.”

When You Give Credit, You Look Like a Star
When you give credit to other people, you look like a star to the rest of the organization. Even if you didn’t hire the people who are doing a stellar job, you’re managing them in some way that allows them to be great. The more the people who work for you are doing great work, the better you look.

And the more you look like you don’t have to work hard to manage them, the better you are as a manager—and the better you look.

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About the author

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential “gotchas,” seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the technical editor for Agile Connection and the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

Johanna is working on a book about agile program management. She writes columns for and projectmanagementcom and blogs on her website,, as well on

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