Everyone loves to feel appreciated. I can tell you that in most businesses there is a distinct lack of recognition and encouragement. I can also tell you that most folks really do like to hear that they are doing a good job.
This is the reason why many engagement surveys ask the question “Have you received recognition from your supervisor in the last week (or five days or month, depending on the survey). This is also often the category of these surveys with the most lackluster results.
I can remember taking over the food and beverage program at a small University in Chicago in 2003. I remember how scared I was and although I knew my boss wanted to support me he was buried with the amount of business reporting up to him. I felt like we were making progress, and I was pleased at the Customer response – but still longing to know that I was doing a good job.
Then the letter came.
The University President had sent a letter to my boss and many others in the organization saying that students on campus were delighted with the changes in service and that I was doing a great job. I can actually quote the letter verbatim because it stills hangs in my office today.
I remember how great that felt and vowed from that day forward that my folks would always know how valued they were. I can tell you that when I stop by the work stations and offices of those I work with and see the thank you notes I have given them pinned on their boards or when they mention how much a particular email or award meant to them, it reaffirms that feeling that our teams love to know when they are doing well.
I can tell you that recognition is contagious. It spreads like wildfire in the way we wish gossip and bad vibes wouldn’t. Team members who feel as though they are appreciated and recognized pay that forward in amazing ways – recognizing their peers and direct reports in turn and keeping the positivity alive. Let’s face it, there is nothing more fun that to watch a Front Line Associate praise his or her colleague. I’ve even seen those folks on the front line turn around and write thank you notes to their supervisors or bake them cookies or nominate them for a company award.
The other amazing part is that this works in EVERY business. There is no company that can’t benefit from this kind of thinking. You just have to decide what the parameters are, if you can afford a budget, and then start right away. Honestly, the financial pieces of these programs don’t have to be robust – so don’t fret that you don’t have a juggernaught’s budget. Don’t get me wrong, there is some benefit to movie tickets or gift card or holiday turkey, but the heartfelt nature of the gesture is most important.
Here are a couple of tips when it comes to giving recognition:
Make the recognition specific – keep the “Thanks for all you do” to a minimum in favor of something more meaningful.
Don’t use praise to mitigate negative feedback. Compliment sandwiches taste terrible, so save the positive feedback for a separate meeting.
Don’t assume one size fits all. Some folks love their feedback in private and others like more public recognitions. There is a right way for everyone, so it’s important to get to know your team to understand how they like their appreciation served up.
Don’t guard recognition like it’s gold bullion. Although recognition is valuable, there is no reason to ration it out – give it freely and let it flow. The old school mentality here is that it devalues the impact and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Don’t make up recognitions. If someone needs tough feedback, give it. But if you can find a small accomplishment to praise to get the rock rolling down the mountain, then absolutely latch on and show the love.
Finally, don’t wait for the BIG moment. Most accomplishments that drive consistency and loyalty aren’t sexy firework moments, but rather steady performance that meets expectations. By all means, lavish the praise on the big moments too – but don’t miss out on saying thanks to the daily rock stars who delivery quietly and without fanfare.
So take some time today. Right now in fact. Take the time to write out at least two thank you notes and deliver them directly to the folks who are getting it done. It could be one of your team, it could be your leader, or it could be a valued colleague. I would love to hear who you recognized. If you have a great story, feel free to post below in the comments section or email me directly.
Remember, the only wrong way to give recognition is not to do it. You will feel so amazing knowing that you are making someone’s day by letting them know how valuable they are to you and the organization.
Enjoy these special moments, treat your Customers like cherished friends, and I will talk to you soon.
Tony Johnson -Customer Service Trainer and Leader-