Are you a valued employee? Let me know if this one sounds familiar. When at happy hour, do you or your friends typically spend time talking about the latest dumb thing that happened at work, how clueless the boss is, or how demoralized people are with their jobs? Not exactly a “happy” hour, is it?
It is not enough just to value the work of your teammates and employees. You need to let them know that they make a valuable contribution.
I have several friends who work for organizations that have great missions that are very meaningful to my friends. They work hard and regularly put in extra effort because they believe in the mission, and they take pride in their work. And yet, they don’t feel that their contribution is acknowledged, valued, or appreciated.
Employees want to know that they are valued
So again, It is not enough just to value the work of your teammates and employees. You need to let them know that they make a valuable contribution. You need to align your words and actions so that they internalize the feeling of being appreciated.
Words are great, but actions are better
Many leaders – from the CEO down to front-line supervisors – actually appreciate the contribution of their team. They may even say the words. But they don’t often show it. You need to demonstrate that you value the contribution of others.
Small gestures make a big difference
Demonstrating that you appreciate your employees does not require major time, effort, or expense. Sure, there is a time and place for big awards, cash gifts, and bonuses. The problem is that these big-ticket appreciation gestures are expensive and happen quite infrequently. People appreciate them at the time, but then this feeling of appreciation quickly fades and needs to be renewed.
If you want to keep people motivated, you need to let them know that you are paying attention to the little things they do that make a big difference to the organization.
For example, do your people stay a little bit late to finish something up or stop what they are doing to help a co-worker with a problem they can’t fix on their own? Do they put in just that little bit of extra effort in a meeting or on a deliverable just because they care? Oh, and don’t forget the person who helps protect you from yourself by saying “no” when you are going off-course or taking on too much.
Get creative in showing you care
Acknowledging all of these small contributions is a great way to show that you are paying attention and that you value your co-workers, teammates, and direct reports. But what should you do?
Get creative! For most people, the act of acknowledging their contribution is more important than what they may actually receive. If you have just a couple of dollars or a few hundred, you do a lot to demonstrate you care.
Technology can make all of this quick and easy. For example, you can send electronic gift cards to their favorite coffee shop or a local restaurant. And since you can do it right from your smartphone, you can do it while sitting at the airport, while waiting for your next meeting to start, or when waiting at the bar for your friends to arrive. It takes so little effort for you but makes a big difference to your employee.
Want to go the extra mile? If you can find something that fits with their personal interests, it not only shows that you appreciate their contribution, it also shows that you have taken the time to get to know them as a person. Does the person always comment that their kids make a mess? Why not go to Living Social and send them a free house cleaner? Are they a Civil War history buff? Why not get them a carriage ride on the Gettysburg Battlefield?
The point is, taking a few minutes to thank people on a regular basis and show them you care is quick, painless, and goes a long way to helping make them happy and productive. Oh, and it feels pretty good to put a smile on someone else’s face. Try it; you won’t be disappointed!
Things to think about
- What are all the ways you make small acts of appreciation for the little things your employees do every day?
- How could you use small gestures to acknowledge the little things that people do to help adopt to changes (new systems or processes) in your organization?
- How can you get other leaders in your organization to routinely acknowledge the little contributions of their team members?