H Jackson Brown wrote a New York Times Besteller called Life’s Little Instruction Book. In that book he has a great quote that says, “Don’t forget a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” Think about that for a moment. More than joy, love, hope, awe, or inspiration, we need appreciation. I’m sure many of you find ways to let your teams know you appreciate the work they do, but are you intentional about the way you go about it? And what about the other people in your life? We can sometimes become so focused on the people we work with in our professional lives, that it’s easy to forget about the people in our personal lives.
Employee engagement is a hot topic right now, but the conversation seems to be more about and ping pong tables and relaxed dress codes than actual engagement. (Full disclosure: we have a Ping-Pong table here at Footers and although it’s a nice perk, it doesn’t automatically mean we have engaged employees.) I believe that letting your team know you care about them and their development is what really matters when it comes to engaging your workforce. There may be no better way to start this process than by showing your appreciation and saying “Thank You.”
Now, saying “Thank You” is easy, but taking it one step further and doing it in a way that is sincere and meaningful to the recipient can be hard. It’s hard because it takes time and effort to get to know how someone likes to be recognized, what motivates them, and what you can do to make them feel appreciated. I have monthly one to one meetings with all of my direct reports and during those conversations I try to uncover something new that will help me do a better job of showing my appreciation. I know one of my team members is very competitive, so when recognizing her it’s important to put it into context of how she performed relative to the group. In a hand written note, I might say, “Great job in September, you had the highest sales in the company.” While another team member of mine prefers to be recognized for her contribution to the team so her note might say something like “Thanks for your support on this project, because you did x, y and z we were able to execute a flawless event and the client already wants to book us again for next year.”
These may seem like minor nuances, but I assure you they can have a huge impact on how your team feels about you, and the work they do every day. An employee that feels appreciated is going to be more productive, have a more positive attitude and be less likely to leave when another opportunity arises. The ability to attract and retain top talent will continue to be one of the key differentiators of companies that thrive and grow and if you want to be in that category, you have to find a way to be intentional about the way you show appreciation for your team. I’ve compiled a list of 10 fun and easy ways to show your team you appreciate them. They may not work for everyone, but give it a try and let me know how it goes.
• Handwritten notes - nobody does this anymore so it really stands out – it’s even better if you mail it to their home address.
• Bring donuts or ice cream sandwiches to the team as a surprise treat. (It’s cheap and easy, but our team loves it.)
• Leave a voicemail on their work line on Sunday night. It’s a great way for them to start their Monday by listening to an appreciative voicemail from their boss.
• Take time during group meetings to recognize an individual for a job well done or for being the top performer of the week.
• Read positive online reviews to the entire team and highlight the people that were part of that event.
• When one of your team members works a long weekend or overtime, send a note and a bottle of wine home to their significant other saying “thanks for your support of the work __________ is doing here.” It’s great to appreciate the other people in your significant other’s lives.
• Goodie bags for staff on a large or long event with snacks and a note thanking them for their hard work.
• Bring breakfast to a morning meeting after a successful week of events
• Personalized birthday and anniversary cards for your team members. Taking it one step further, I have one friend that sends birthday cards to all of his employee’s kids.
• A thank you on someone’s Facebook page recognizing what a great job they did. This only works if they enjoy public recognition, but how cool for their friends and family to see that they did something great at work.
Think about the impact you can have on the lives of other people, simply by letting at least one person every day know that you appreciate them. Margaret Cousins said, “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” Are you overdue in letting someone on your team know that you appreciate them?