Have you ever volunteered at an activity, and come away with a positive feeling for what you have done? You feel good about yourself and for having made a positive difference in someone else’s life. Have you noticed that the leadership was extremely appreciative and gave you many kudos at the beginning, during the activity, and at the end? Learn from this and treat your employees as volunteers. Provide authentic appreciation at work on a timely and regular basis for something specific. This will enhance collaboration, engagement, and a sense of belonging. Side benefits are better productivity, more revenue, and more profit. These are not the goals, but these are the tangible benefits by taking these proactive, positive, engaging, appreciating actions when genuinely and authentically applied.
In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “5 Things High-Performing Teams Do Differently” based on research findings by Dr. Ron Friedman the authors state the following:
“New research suggests that the highest-performing teams have found subtle ways of leveraging social connections during the pandemic to fuel their success. The findings offer important clues on ways any organization can foster greater connectedness — even within a remote or hybrid work setting — to engineer higher-performing teams.”
Consistent with findings from Authentic Appreciation at Work three of the five key characteristic actions they cited are consistent between each. These are:
- High-performing teams give and receive appreciation more frequently.
- High-performing teams invest time in bonding over non-work topics.
- High-performing teams are more authentic at work.
So, what are the implications?
Trying to make people feel good is not the goal. Rather, the emphasis should be on bonding by developing authentic connecting, relationships with others. When you know other people well and you can relate to them this makes a big difference. Because you genuinely care, it shows. You need to reach out with an attitude to help and to be there for them. When you care this becomes self-evident. One of the keys is to
provide positive appreciation more frequently.
All generations appreciate connectiveness. How to appreciate with generational differences has some commonalities, and yet there are differences too. A text to a generation Z or millennial more frequently means a lot. Everyone likes a hand written note. Face to face whether virtual or in person has a more significant impact on generation X and baby boomers.
Recommendations to appreciate others for something specific at least once a week has shown to be optimal. Do not just simply give an “atta boy” or “nice work” although these can be fine too. Instead
provide affirmation for something specific
relating to someone helping team members, stepping up to take on something new, providing some specific customer service, or completing a task are examples of how you can look for and comment on something specific. By identifying something specific that is meaningful to you and the employee, you can reinforce what you want to see more of going forward.
Feeling good versus belonging
It turns out that making others feel good is short lived like a sugar high after a fresh hot glazed donut, but it quickly fades. On the other hand, an analogy of having a nutritionally antioxidant like fresh fruit or blueberries avoids the short term high and is longer lasting. The same is true for consistent appreciation.
By making the effort to appreciate others regularly, learning about them in their personal lives, and connecting more often, this goes a long way towards team building, engaging, and increasing a sense of belonging.
This leads to increases in productivity and the bottom line. This helps the organization grow more effectively and efficiently. This improves customer satisfaction, business results, employee satisfaction, and leadership development. You need better results and leadership. Everyone does. A sense of progress and control reinforce self-worth.
During the pandemic, many employees expanded into working from home. A lot has been learned regarding the implications of working from home. On the positive side, many appreciated not having to commute, more flexible hours, less negative interactions, and the ability to concentrate more effectively. On the negative side, others found this to be isolating, missing human interaction, and unable to collaborate as effectively without adapting and using new tools to communicate differently. So, what can be learned going forward?
Those that made the effort to engage employees with social hours, catching up with each other, and expanding on effort to connect in various ways were able to minimize the negative implications.
However, this was not just to make everyone feel connected and happy, but to gain personal insights and a time to recognize others for their contributions. Leaders also went out of their way to connect and appreciate others with designated one on one time.
Types of questions and recognitions
Leaders also learned to start one on one time with a check in with questions and statements like:
- What have you been thinking about lately?
- What is on your mind?
- What is something positive that has happened with you in the last 30 days?
- How are you really?
- What can I do to support you?
- I want to thank you for …..
- When you … that really demonstrated … and I want to let you know how much that was appreciated.
These types of questions to explore how others are really feeling, doing, and gaining insight into personal lives means a lot. Similarly, looking for and acknowledging positive actions to build the team, take care of customers, and creatively address concerns further reinforces good behavior.
We are social
Humans appreciate social contact. Isolation is one of the most severe forms of punishment. When you feel isolated, it is can be hard to concentrate and conduct the task at hand. Communication is the key to understanding.
When you work on tasks collectively to meet a goal this is collaboration. By connecting and listening to others you promote trust.
Relationships are built at the speed of trust. When your needs are met you are more able to focus on the tasks at hand. Knowing others needs and helping them meet their needs promotes collaboration and trust.
To be most successful the exceptionally growing firms make listening an important skill to learn and to expand on for future growth. They catch employees doing something right regularly and set goals for managers to catch employees doing something right and reinforce this with their employees weekly. They have been taught to look for something specific.
Good leaders have been taught to listen to their employees regarding the tasks at hand and in their employees’ personal lives.
By developing authentic connecting relationships and showing appreciation at work employees grow in their accomplishments and leadership capabilities. When you take steps to listen in your organization you will become even more successful Listening is the key. This includes determining what type of appreciation matters most to your employees.
About the author
Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]