Three A’s of Building Employee Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

The most important factor in motivating employees is the way you treat people. Building self-esteem and self-confidence in others is more important in bringing the best out of people than all the education, intelligence or experience you might have at doing your job.

The deepest need of all, the core emotional need of the human being, is for self-esteem. It is to feel respected and worthwhile. It is to be liked and valued by the boss, the person with the most influence over the employee’s work and income. The deepest need is to feel important.

There are several ways you can satisfy this deep subconscious need for self-esteem and personal importance. They all start with the letter “A:”


People love to be appreciated for the things that they do and say. Appreciation acknowledges their value and uniqueness. When you appreciate someone for something, you raise their self-esteem, increase their self-confidence and improve their self-image. The more you appreciate someone for something, the more likely they are to do it again, and to do it even better next time, so that they can earn even more appreciation than before.

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The simplest way to express appreciation is to simply say “thank you” to each person for anything and everything that they do that is helpful or positive in any way. The more you thank people for what they are doing, the more things they will do for which they deserve to be thanked. When you thank people on a regular basis, your staff will begin to thank each other for the work they perform as a team. In no time, an “attitude of gratitude” will permeate your office and positively affect everyone who works there.

When you appreciate another person, at home or at work, or even outside of work for anything that they do, you are recognizing their value as a special human being, which will increase their self-confidence. This is one of the best ways to promote a culture of positive thinking within your business.


Showing approval is one of the most powerful ways to raise self-esteem, and increase their self-confidence. Whenever you praise and approve another person, you satisfy one of their deepest emotional needs. Praise and approbation for any kind of effort or accomplishment makes a person feel terrific about themselves. They feel valuable and important. Their self-esteem goes up and their self-image improves. And the more you praise people for what they do, the more likely they are to repeat the behavior that earned the praise in the first place.

One of the things we know about the power of praise is that it must be done deliberately and intelligently for maximum impact. For example, if you want a person to develop a positive behavior, each time that they demonstrate that behavior, you should go out of your way to notice it and praise them for it.

Winston Churchill said, “If you want a person to demonstrate a virtue, impute that virtue to him in advance.” When you approve of a person’s potential behavior or performance, in advance, you set up a force field of positive energy that motivates that person to do an even better job so that they do not disappoint you. Their self-confidence will skyrocket.

Here is another way to use the power of approval to great effect: Praise people in front of others. If a person does a good job, take them to your boss, or the most senior person you can find and “brag on them” to the other person. As the employee stands there listening, talk to the senior person and tell them what a great job this person just did. Explain the difficulties of the job, and the intricacies of the performance. Build it up. Make a big deal of it. Let the person stand there and bask in your approval. They will remember the experience for a long time.

When you praise people in front of others, either individuals or groups, they will remember it for a long time, even years. More than that, they will strive to repeat the performance so that they can earn more approval in the future. When you raise people’s self-esteem with approval, you make them feel wonderful about themselves, and motivate them to perform at ever higher levels.


Perhaps the most powerful of all techniques to make people feel important is to listen attentively to them when they talk to you. Learning and practicing this behavior until it becomes a habit can do more to improve your relationships at work and at home than perhaps any other single behavior.

Listening is essential. You always listen to someone who you value. You listen when your boss speaks to you. You listen when someone who you look up to and respect speaks, or speaks to you. The more important the other person is, the more you hang on every word, and the more influenced you are by what they say.

On the other hand, you always ignore what you don’t value. To put it another way, when you ignore another person you devalue them, in their own eyes, and in the eyes of other people around them. One of the big mistakes that managers make, because they are in a position of control and power, is that they dominate the conversation. They talk too much. They interrupt people and complete their sentences. They ignore what people have said and rush in to make their own points. They override the arguments of others because they have the power to do it.

But every time you withhold your close attention from another person when they are talking, you make them feel valueless and they will lose their self-confidence. If you do this in the presence of others, you convey to the others that the person speaking is of no importance. You start to create a negative downward spiral that can lead to unhappiness and disaffection in a workplace.

Thank you for reading this article on simple ways to motivate employees by building self-esteem and self-confidence. Did you know SMART Goals are another great way to inspire your team? Do you have any employee recognition methods that have worked for you? Please share with others and comment below!

Topics included in this article:
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Confidence
  • Employee Recognition
  • Building Self-Esteem

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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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