The best recognition that is most valued and remembered by employees tends to be individualized and personal. Take time to add a personal touch in thanking your employees. This can be as simple as an individualized note to each employee who directly reports to you, thanking them for his or her specific contributions and achievements they have made.
I did this for a group of 17 employees who reported to me once. It took me about an hour and a half to draft the notes and it gave me a chance to reflect on all the achievements members of my team had made. To me it was a simple, practical way to acknowledge their efforts, but to most of them it was much more. Two of the employees were so touched by the gesture they cried.
Work sincere thanks into your daily activities on an ongoing basis. For example, make it a habit to greet people as if you had all the time in the world for them, even if this only takes a couple of minutes to do. Give them your undivided attention and if that is not possible, tell them that you are distracted and would like to get back to them when you could better focus on them, your conversation and their needs.
Do you light up a room when you enter it or when you leave it? When you walk into your office in the morning, think of it as though you are stepping onto a stage with the audience you are playing to being those individuals that you work for you. Direct eye contact and a simple smile go a long way to communicate to others that they are important to you and help them to answer the question: “How are things going?”
If you are in a bad mood, say so! By providing a disclaimer, it helps to explain why you might seem on edge so that others will be less likely to take your mood personally. Take care not to make this a crutch, however, that gives you the right to permanently be in a bad mood!
One of the true tests of a professional is how he or she acts under pressure, when things are not going as planned. Do you have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality? Work on it or find some strategies to buffer your reactions when things go wrong. Take some time before reacting, ask for information or clarity or the opinions of others, or take a break and leave the building for a few minutes. These tactics can all help to give you perspective in a tough situation and can help keep you from crushing the human spirit in your work environment.
When someone leaves the office at the end of the day, say good-bye and thank them for their effort that day. When asking employees about great managers they had worked for over their career, I’ve had more than one person tell me how such a manager would thank them for being there every day before they went home. A simple courtesy, yes, but one that employees noted and valued.
For the most powerful recognition, simple, day-to-day thanks is where it’s at for building a foundation of trust and goodwill that is so important in any relationship today. Remember, the small things can make a big difference over time with those people who play a big role in your success.
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