If the pandemic has given us one positive, it’s perspective. Frankly, the business and the work are just the business and the work. The health and well-being of real people – physical, mental, and emotional – are far more important.
I like to think Covid has made executives more aware of this fact. My hope is that increased awareness will motivate executives to take a closer look at how they treat the people who are essential to the growth and profitability of their organization.
Treating people with respect and dignity, recognizing their efforts, and showing appreciation for their contributions will go a long way towards enhancing how they feel about themselves and your organization.
How Do You Show Recognition and Appreciation?
As Mike Robbins discussed in Harvard Business Review, recognition and appreciation are not the same. Your team needs both.
Recognition is generally performance-based and focuses on rewarding people for positive outcomes. There are plenty of ways to show recognition, whether person to person or using technology.
For example, Prager Metis has implemented a spot bonus program, which rewards people on the spot for an accomplishment. We also use new software that allows team members to give shoutouts to others for doing a great job.
Of course, if someone demonstrates a pattern of success and strong effort, it is incumbent upon leaders to reward these people with pay increases, promotions, more prominent roles, or more authority. Advocate for those people. Make sure others in the organization know the extent of their contributions. Never take people for granted.
While recognition tends to be focused on accomplishments, appreciation is more personal. Appreciation builds connections and strengthens relationships. It shows you care. It makes people feel fulfilled.
Pick up the phone. Send a personal text. Not everyone likes to be called out publicly, so be respectful of each individual’s wishes. The fact is that many people don’t need or want public praise to feel appreciated. They just want to know that you notice, you care, and you appreciate what they bring to the table.
How Are You Affecting People’s Lives?
Systems can be implemented to ensure team members are recognized and shown appreciation for what they do. However, leaders can still lose sight of the impact they have on their team’s daily lives.
Life isn’t easy. People deal with enough stress and pain at home and shouldn’t be made to feel even worse when they show up for work. Think about the day-to-day experience of getting up each morning and going to work, knowing that even your best efforts will go unnoticed, unappreciated, or ignored.
That’s a miserable existence, and it’s something business leaders should not allow to happen.
Just like a client doesn’t have the right to treat you however they want just because they’re paying for a service, you don’t have the right to treat people however you want just because you pay their salary.
Many people love the work they do. As leaders, we should want them to love coming to work, and that begins with creating a more positive, fulfilling work environment.
Beyond basic human decency, treating people with respect and dignity and showing gratitude is good business practice. You build a culture in which people feel valued and are more likely to look for their next opportunity internally than externally.
Also, when people are appreciated and praised, they tend to become better representatives for the organization. They feel better about themselves and the work they’re doing, creating a positive outlook that shines through in their interactions with clients, business partners, and vendors.
This article was inspired by a deep sense of gratitude. I couldn’t be more grateful for the perseverance of our team while they experienced unimaginable adversity and uncertainty. I’ve expressed this privately many times, but I want to make sure they know they’re appreciated. I hope you’ll do the same with your team.
As business leaders, take an honest look at the impact you have on people’s lives. You have the ability to inspire people each day, support people in times of crisis, mold and mentor the next generation of leaders to do things that they may never have thought possible. That’s exciting!
This comes from praise and affirmation, not tearing people down. People will always remember how recognition and appreciation praise made them feel. They’ll remember the individuals who recognized and appreciated them. It’s fulfilling and rewarding for both sides.
Ultimately, you have the ability to make each day a good day or a bad day for your team. Strive to make each day a good day and change lives for the better.