As we approach the end of 2018, with many of us frantically working to achieve goals or meet deadlines, the week of Thanksgiving is a great reminder to take some time to give thanks to your team. Recognition is a critical part of engagement, which leads to increased satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Yet only 1 out of 3 employees say that they receive recognition regularly, and 82% of employees do not feel as though their supervisors recognize them enough. This majorly missed opportunity usually happens because managers either completely neglect to show their appreciation, or they show it in a way that is not meaningful to the employee. So, here are some tips on how you can recognize your team in a way that connects with them:
1) Say it: This may sound simple, but it is the foundation of meaningful recognition. Consider how many missed opportunities there are to say “thank you” to your employees. How often do you avoid giving your full attention to your employees when they are communicating with you and, as a result, you neglect to thank them for their time and work? You should be thanking your employees daily. Whether that is during a daily meeting, at the end of the day, or anytime they complete an important task, let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Research shows that managers who remember to say, “thank you” will likely find a significant increase in productivity. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, said it best, “Nothing else can substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” So, the next time you have an opportunity to recognize an employee, start by saying “thank you.”
2) Write it: In today’s digital word, handwritten thank-you cards have gone by the wayside. But showing recognition by writing a card can be an impactful and personal way to connect with your employees. For the card to be meaningful, you must personalize it for each recipient, recognizing their specific efforts and achievements. As it is the holiday season, you are probably thinking about whether to give some a card. But remember, the purpose of the card is to give thanks–don’t just sign a card and think you are done. Cards, especially ones expressing thanks, need context, so point out why you appreciate them, and why you are glad that they are a part of the team.
I also encourage extending recognition beyond the workplace by sending thank-you notes home. Sending notes to your employee’s home is especially important when employees have been asked to work long days or extra hours, which is common during the mad dash to the end of the year. A thank-you note to the employee’s loved ones that details your appreciation for the employee’s time and efforts is a thoughtful and effective way to express your gratitude.
3) Share it: Recognize your employees in front of their co-workers or other leaders in the organization. While it feels great to be recognized by your boss, the feeling is exemplified when other people in the organization notice your hard work. In addition to giving individual praise, remember to recognize the team collectively. A great way to thank your entire team is to give employees the opportunity to present their work to other leaders or teams in the organization and receive praise as a team. Allowing for a larger audience to provide recognition makes the team members feel appreciated and reinforces the value of working together.
4) Encourage it: Encourage your employees to recognize each other. Peer recognition is a powerful and inclusive way to praise and recognize performance. Implementing a peer recognition system gives employees a chance to show their appreciation to each other and keeps employees engaged in their work by showing that their efforts do not go unnoticed. As a manager, you cannot be all places at once, so you must work through your team, which includes ensuring employees feel recognized and appreciated. Many technology platforms specialize in recognition and provide employees with an easy-to-use tool to show their appreciation.
5) Continue it: Like any new habit, you must work at it to make it a part of your normal routine. Recognition is always going to be important, so create a plan for how you will consistently recognize your employees. Making gratitude a habit might mean making yourself reminders, like putting it on your daily task list, scheduling in time to write thank-you cards, or organizing an end of week/month/quarter lunch. Whatever means you choose to recognize your employees, make sure you plan it out so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of daily activities.
Recognizing your employees doesn’t have to be complex or costly; it just needs to be done consistently, and in a way that resonates with your employees. Remember, for any recognition to be effective, it must be genuine. So, spend some time reflecting on the work your team has done and use these tips to help you give thanks. Start recognizing today and carry this habit with you into the new year.