Find your praise “blind spots”

Wil Reynolds
3 min readJul 1, 2021


How do you know if you have praise bias / blind spots??

Many years ago, I read the book 1001 ways to reward employees and one example that stood out to me was this one.

This is part of how you can make recognizing your team’s work a habit. You all know my love of data though, so I love having “structured” praise which lets me see my habits over time. Submitting praise in our feedback tool (Small Improvements) allowed me to see how I was doing at the virtual “5 coins” example. Praise in email, chats, zooms, don’t have a schema and makes it quite hard to find your blind spots, so you likely just perpetuate them.

Data. data. data.

Structured data has helped me be the husband / father I’ve wanted to be, so what about manager?

When I did the analysis 3–4 years ago, I realized 2 areas where I was weak in praise. My west coast team, and my non SEO team. Why? Proximity. I wasn’t “walking by” my west coast team as often as my Philly team. My background is in SEO, so I got pulled into more and more SEO deliverables and SEO conversations. If I didn’t have the data / reminder I would have been lost.

I exported the data from small improvements, pulled in who I was giving shout outs to, then joined that in Power Bi to our HR tool Bamboo, boom I could see my deficiencies / biases in praise.

Small change.

While I didn’t have 5 coins, I did have the data and a desire to change. So every Friday I should have at least 2 people who are from our west coast office or not in SEO to shout out. It was an opportunity to pause, think, and any week when I didn’t have someone to shout out, I set up a coffee chats the following week with a few non SEO team members or West coast team,

Dear manager your team will fill in gaps.

This past week one of my top performers asked, “Wil, are we cool?, You haven’t responded to two of my messages”. When I looked back both messages were this person giving me an answer to an important project, and I didn't respond saying “Thank you this is what I needed” because it was what I needed I just saw the answer and kept moving, but to that person it was a potential signal to say … is something up? Thank God they reached out, most won’t.

One downside to public praise, people might get used to it and think…oh my manager hasn’t given me praise in 3 months, I am probably not doing as good as I used to. So just keep in mind that people often think this way and try to fill in the gaps.



Wil Reynolds

Serial Underdog @seerinteractive doing SEO, Marketing, & Stuff, I am whatever you say I am.