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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference
We all long for someone to tell us that we’re doing a good job… a pat on the back, an encouraging word, recognition for our efforts. And what we crave is more than the simple “thank you” or “good job.” We want to hear specifics – we desire to have our actions actually acknowledged – something heartfelt and authentic, without any ulterior motives behind it. An acknowledgment puts the spotlight on someone else’s talent, thoughtfulness, hard work, etc. You will energize and inspire that individual to work harder and keep doing what they do well.
But, the truth of the matter is, acknowledgments are a rarity, especially in the workplace, which is unfortunate. Most people spend the majority of their lives working – it takes up more time than anything else we do. Sleeping may come close for the ratio of time in a 24 hour day, but how many of us actually get those blessed eight hours of sleep anyway. For something that we spend most of our time doing (our job), you would think that the acknowledgments for a job-well-done would be plentiful. But they, quite often, are not.
But you, as an employer, can really make a difference in the lives of your employees that work so hard to keep your business up and running. Honestly, if you take a good look at things, would you business be where it is today if you didn’t have a staff willing to get it there? Probably not. So, if you’re not already doing so, you should take every opportunity to really acknowledge the hard work and dedication of your employees.
Is it difficult for you to do? It is for many people. A great way to start is by acknowledging the efforts complete strangers. You don’t have to worry about whether strangers are second guessing your motivation, and you honestly don’t have to be concerned about whether or not your words made an impact on them. You simply tell the waitress that she did a great job by keeping up with your drinks and taking away dirty plates, and hope to brighten her day, or at least make her smile.
Once you’ve had some practice and feel comfortable, start sharing an acknowledgment with those you see on a daily basis. Acknowledge the wonderful meal your wife cooked for dinner, or that your husband took the time to wash the car. Acknowledge your children for sharing their toys or saying something nice to each other. And, finally, acknowledge your employee for the wonderful job he did on the presentation, or the outstanding status report on a case.
Still at a loss at exactly what to say or do to make your acknowledgment have the most powerful effect on your employees? Here are a couple of tips:
Employees, much like children, often base their success at their job upon the feedback they receive. They define themselves by what you, as their boss, have to say. No feedback at all from you can begin to wear on an employee and make them wonder if they are doing anything right at all, even if you do think they’re doing just fine. So, be sure to say something to your employees frequently. Make a point to acknowledge their accomplishments at least once a week.
While an occasional “great job” doesn’t hurt, but it really doesn’t inspire much. Instead, be specific about what exactly your employee did that earned your appreciation. For example, don’t just say, “great job on that presentation,” but tell them that you really appreciated all the effort they put into the research, the way they outlined it so everyone would easily understand – point out specific details of the presentation that stood out to you as making it a successful one.
Keep it Private
While you might think that a public acknowledgment of your employee’s work will make them proud, it can often embarrass the employee and even cause conflict and competition with their co-workers. Think back to grade school and the kid that was the teacher’s pet and got all of her attention and praise in front of the whole class – you didn’t like her much and, if you were the teacher’s pet, you didn’t much like how the other kids looked at you. Acknowledging your employee in private is much more effective. It is personal, feels more special, and avoids any awkward circumstances. It also feels more sincere.
Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Employees Want from You
Inspire Your Employees
Protecting Your Clientele
Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid