Don Lowman wrote a couple of interesting posts “The Power of Thank You” and “Expressing Informed Admiration”. I know that there is a general consensus that recognition is a powerful motivator, but I feel it is quite an under-utilized tool in the people-managers’ toolkit. Managers and leaders sometimes have a tendency to get so “busy” in daily business operations and caught up in formal systems, that they completely forget about the “soft”, yet powerful effects of “positive reflections”.
Employees are always waiting for feedback, good or bad. They don’t like to feel like “headless chickens”! And when it comes to recognition, a simple pat-on-the-back may not be enough. Employees want to know why their work is appreciated and how it makes a difference to the organization. Mere lip-service is not enough, managers need to reflect back to their reportees the value of their contribution. As Don writes:
Most of us are lucky to have many talented colleagues around us. Challenge yourself to understand and appreciate the value that they provide and become familiar with what they did, how they did it and the challenges they overcame.
On another note, how often are we really thanking our colleagues enough for their partnership and contribution. Such interactions have unfortunately got limited to an email or a crisp ‘thanks’. Does that make a big difference? We are humans, not bots! And the human touch is the thing we crave for. Don reflects on his experiences and writes:
It is a lesson I know I need to remember and try to practice everyday. Surprisingly, it makes more of a difference than one might think, because it happens far too rarely in business (in life?) today. Just remember to say “Thank you.”
What might I do differently next time? I would write the notes out by hand and put them in an envelope instead of using e-mail.
Managers really need to start using the “soft” levers to bring about “hard” differences to the way their businesses run and perform. Especially, in the times we live in currently, where stress levels and anxiety are at an all-time high, informed admiration and appreciation will make a lot of difference.