Here’s something that many people want more of in their jobs: acknowledgment. It’s part of human nature to need to feel like we matter and make a difference. Think about it – when someone gives you a “nice job!” does that make you want to slouch in a corner and check your email, or get at it and do even greater work?
Showing appreciation—whether you’re a leader or a co-worker—gives team members the boost they need to stay engaged and productive over time. If you fall into the camp of the under-acknowledged, try this: Take control of your situation and be the appreciator. You never know—you could motivate others to follow suit. But in the end, making people feel good about the work they’re doing has a boomerang effect—it feels good to the giver, too.
Here are easy five tips on how to acknowledge the people you work with.
Verbalize your appreciation.
Acknowledge work well done on a regular basis. Comments can range from the specific like, “The way you handled that client meeting was so smart,” to the general, “I appreciate the great work you do.” You’d be surprised how many team mates or bosses don’t give high-fives. If you’re not used to giving kudos, start small (“nice job!”) and then build up. It’s the kind of practice that makes everyone feel better.
Listening is the language of love, social scientists tell us. When we’re at work we don’t want to get gooey, but here’s the truth: When someone listens to you – whether it’s an idea you’re sharing or a project challenge you’re working through, it feels supportive to have someone all in, witnessing what you’re going through. So put away your cell phone, don’t check your computer screen for emails and just be there for your co-worker. Without the distractions, you might make some ingenious project breakthroughs together, who knows!
Ask co-workers about their lives.
When you ask team members basic questions about their family and hobbies outside of work, this shows interest in the whole person. And like listening, it’s a language of caring, which makes people feel like they matter which affects performance and motivation in simple but effective ways. An easy place to start is on Monday morning with, “How was your weekend?” It’s an unobtrusive question that shows interest and lets the receiver decide on the content they share.
If you’re leading a team, offer training, education or work challenges that stretch team members to learn and grow. If you’re not the mentor type, make sure everyone has access to the resources or people they need to keep developing skills and nurture a career trajectory they’re excited about. Be an advocate for everyone doing their best work in a job they love.
Say “thank you.”
It’s a little phrase that goes a long way.
If you found this article helpful, match your listening prowess with great project management skills. Download the eBook, 5 Practical Habits for Today’s Project Manager.