According to a recent study by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, workers (employees and volunteers) value kind words delivered face to face verses an award like a $25 gift card, a perfunctory e-mail, or a mention on the company intranet.
As a great leader, it is important to recognize that workers, whether mid-level managers, employees, and/or volunteers, prefer thanks and giving through personal recognition. Workers want to know how they are doing in their jobs, as well as, how the organization is doing. Thus, leaders must take responsibility to sharing with workers how their contributions affect the organization. If workers know their contributions positively affect the organization, the worker’s performance excels. In contrast, if leaders only criticize performance or fail to provide any constructive feedback, then workers become discouraged and disengaged.
So, what are some key steps towards “thanks and giving”? First, implement constructive feedback. Observe and acknowledge good work through engaging communication. For example, at the moment of observation, positively reinforce your workers through specific feedback about their contribution. Express how their contribution will impact the organization towards success.
Second, learn how to give reinforce by catching workers doing something right. When you observe great work contributions, reinforce that behavior by acknowledging that worker in the moment. This acknowledgement will only increase the worker’s moral and retention.
Last and most importantly, make the conscious effort of “thanks and giving” (rewards and recognition) an ongoing practice and not an once a year event. Keep in mind the money employees are paid is compensation for their work; hence, recognition is not compensation. Rewards and reorganization, however, are what great leaders offer workers beyond compensation to gain the best contributions and promote healthy working cultures.
Leadership Challenge for 2010: If your days fly by before you get a change to recognize and thank workers, take a few minutes at the end of the week, before you go home to jot down a personal, handwritten note to individuals acknowledging their contributions to the team and the organization. For example, this week, thank your administrative assistant for maintaining and scheduling your busy calendar. Next week, take time to acknowledge another worker for their personal contributions. Maintain this rotation of thanks by giving every week until every employee receives a “Thank You” note. Then start over with new recognitions for the entire year. You’ll be surprised of the positive change in culture and the increase in productivity.
by Karlyn D. Henderson (c) 2009. All rights reserved.