My purpose for this post is to convince you to make some changes. Strive to build positive relationships on a regular basis with your employees. This is an essential practice to develop in order to improve the value of nonmonetary recognition.
When you have a positive relationship with your staff, you are creating a foundation on which to build employee recognition, employee engagement, and a complete employee experience. This positive relationship strength between a giver of recognition and the recipient helps to enhance the value of the recognition and show the authenticity of the recognition expressed.
I’m going to share with you some principles to apply in fostering a more positive relationship with your employees and those you work with.
Each of us are unique human beings and are truly works-in-progress.
I would never expect that each person who writes and sends an anniversary or career milestone ecard, or any ecard, look exactly the same way. That would make them impersonal and insincere.
However, the recent experience of reaching my 15th year with Engage2Excel, previously known as Rideau Inc., provided some wonderful insights to learn from with the emails or ecards that I received from leaders and peers alike.
Let’s look at some messages sent to me and learn some practical principles when expressing recognition in writing on a long-service anniversary.
Sarcasm is also known as verbal irony, and humor often tempers it. It’s a type of speech that has a semantic interpretation opposite to its literal meaning. Too often it is used to say something opposite of what is true, intending to make someone look or feel foolish.
Whatever people say sarcastically should not be taken literally. However, that’s not saying people don’t take it the wrong way. As communication experts will tell you, many people have been on the receiving end of sarcastic comments and it can hurt.
Imagine if each person gave recognition just one percent better than the last time that they recognized someone. That’s all it takes to enhance your recognition practices and optimize the usage of your recognition programs. One percent improvement is all it takes. And here are some ways for you to give better recognition than anyone else every day.
Start your workday off by sending out or giving a thought of gratitude. Even if it is only one person you communicate with, imagine the difference you will make. Don’t open up your email inbox until you have emailed a message or spoken gratitude to someone.
Actively smile whenever you greet someone and especially when you recognize them. Whether face-to-face or virtually through the various video conference tools, a smile engages people and sends positive, emotional, non-verbal communication.
Ensure you make eye contact with people you express recognition to. When two people make eye contact when communicating, their brains actually synchronize emotional brainwaves and it enhances the receptiveness to what they said.
Be enthusiastic and use a positive tone of voice when verbally recognizing others. A positive tone of voice conveys the words communicated in a healthier and better way. Work to be more excited about the recognition you give, and people will feel it.
Use the person’s name in the text boxes of your online recognition programs. It is easy to neglect using a person’s name in an online program because you have selected who the message or ecard is going to. But people read the message in the box, so use it.
In text, writing, or speech, tell people specifically what you’re recognizing them for. Refrain from using the too short and sweet generic statements with your recognition. Tell them exactly what it was you noticed that impressed you. They really want to know.
In the same manner, be specific about how the person’s actions impacted others. Too often people do not know how their positive actions affected others. Share the impact their behaviors had on a peer, a customer, their boss, or for the company.
Work on using positive vocabulary versus neutral words when recognizing people. Stop using words like, “good job” or “well done.” The words “good” and “well” are neutral. And being more specific, eliminates “job,” and “done”. Get more creative. Be amazing!
Leave a voice mail message for someone expressing your thanks for their work. Try after hours to leave a voice mail message expressing your appreciation for the work an employee has done. It may surprise you how long people keep these messages and replay them.
Write a well written thank-you card or note to recognize people each day. If you write one card or note a day to any employee in the organization who has affected you, you will make a tremendous difference. Those cards become keepers, and people often reread them.
Keep the recognition happening for work from home staff.
Managers are dealing with more work from home employees than ever before. And the current COVID-19 pandemic is looking to keep employees working at home for the next foreseeable future. You must recognize and reward your employees better and you must also enhance the total employee experience, even at the home office. Follow these suggestions to make the work-life experience a better one for your staff.
What are they proud of? Chris Littlefield, founder of Beyond Thank You! suggests asking employees what they’re most proud of in the last six months. Listen carefully to what they say, and you will quickly learn what matters most to each employee.
Conduct a litmus test of home offices. Make one of your 1:1 meetings with each staff about working from home. What are they dealing with in working from home? How is the situation with family, children, and school? How can you help them?
Remove barriers. There are constraints in working from home like time issues, technology challenges, or a lack of communication. Take note of each concern and work on operationally and report back on progress with addressing them.
Use your recognition programs frequently. Go onto your online recognition programs daily and send positive messages. Celebrate people’s birthdays and work anniversaries. Acknowledge people for their help and the positive actions you see.
Create employee connection plans. Facilitate discussion in staff meetings on creating better connections. What internal processes must be improved? What is the preference for each employee? Some will be grateful for less connections. Find out.
Email only during office hours. Boundaries relieve employees from feeling compelled to respond to senders’ emails after hours. It allows staff to separate their work and their personal lives better especially since COVID-19 has affected things.
Flexible schedules and boundaries. Sticking to 9-to-5 schedules may no longer be realistic due to childcare/elder-care responsibilities. Be open minded to budgeting of work time while accommodating others’ time zones and time constraints.
Encouraging peak productivity. If staff are not used to working from home their productivity may wane. Invite staff to identify their peak performance hours and prioritize important tasks during these times and make time slots interruption free.
Virtually socialize. Create the chance for staff to connect and socialize informally while remote. This can be done through scheduled happy hours or at lunch and learns. This is especially helpful when staff cross multiple locations and time zones.
Offer online learning. Career development shouldn’t stop because people work from home. Draw upon industry and professional certification programs. Have Learning & Development advertise existing resources. Offer to cover learning costs.
Many of you have heard of my three factors for giving recognition: Values, Skills, and Awareness.
If you put these three factors into a Venn diagram of three overlapping circles, you see some interesting insights that help you understand what’s going on in your organization.
I will guide you through what each of these factors means and the different outcomes that happen when you only have certain combinations of each of these factors. Then I will share some ideas on how you can strengthen each of these factors to make giving recognition a natural reaction.
In life, I strive for a basic level of minimalism. I still have a lot of things, but I continually get rid of some things I no longer need or use so I can focus more on what’s most important to me—such as family, friends, joy, and freedom. Minimalism can make a real difference.
However, when expressing recognition to the people you and I work with, there is no need for minimalism with how you communicate your praise and appreciation to them. That means, as I have said before, that those meaningless, short phrases like “good job” and “well done,” don’t work.
If you’re still using them, you’ve gone too far with decluttering your recognition messaging.
This post is all about showing you the importance of telling people the difference their positive actions make on others.
Yes, it is still important to mind your manners and say please and thank you, even in the workplace.
Etiquette and manners seem to fly out the door with common courtesy in dealing with managers and peers. Our language has become short and cryptic with the increased usage of messaging with smartphones.
Yet, January is National Thank You Month, so it seems even more relevant to address this often-overlooked subject.