I was sitting with an employee last week. We were having a conversation about his role, the likes, dislikes and everything in between. He’s performing well and feels he goes above and beyond what is expected of him in his role, which gives him a sense of personal satisfaction. But something was missing for him. When I asked him what this was he had to think for a moment. Then he said it was recognition. And when we drilled down further, all he was looking for was a simple thank you for going above and beyond. He didn’t want a salary increase, promotion or bonus, just a simple thank you that would make him feel like his efforts were recognised.
This story is a great reminder of the old adage – it’s the little things that make the biggest difference’. It doesn’t take a lot of time to say thank you but it goes a long way in creating the sense that your team members are valued. I think Maya Angelou summed this up beautifully with her quote “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How are you making your team feel?
A study of workplaces in more than 140 countries published in Gallup’s The State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide report found that only 13% of people are engaged in their work. That same study found that of Australian employees:
- 60% are ‘not engaged’ – they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organisational goals or outcomes
- 16% are ‘actively disengaged’ – they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to co-workers.
The International Journal of Business and Management published a research paper in May 2014, titled ‘Employee Engagement and Disengagement: Causes and Benefits’. The paper states one following causes of employee disengagement is lack of recognition amongst other points.
Often leaders can fall into the trap of believing if their employees are well paid, if they provide great working conditions, if they know them by name and if they have a robust performance management framework in place and they pay them a nice bonus at the end of the year that their employees should be happy. But it’s just not that easy anymore. Your team want to feel and believe they are valued and it takes more than money to make them feel this way.
It requires your awareness and your time. That’s it. It costs you nothing but the return on your investment of being aware of what is going on around you, what your employees are really doing and taking the time to simply say thank you will benefit you tenfold.
Here are some simple ideas for you:
- Make eye contact and say thank you
Personally making the effort to approach your team member, look them in the eye and say thank you can mean so much. Recognising the contribution they are making to the business, your team and clients and why it’s important can make a person feel so validated and important that it’s a powerful gift. It’s also very positive behaviour to be role modeling. Not too much can beat this in my eyes and I’ve seen the effects of this make a person stand 10 feet taller!
- A simple email of thanks.
A simple personal email can go a long way also. “Thank you for what you are doing Paul. It’s not going unnoticed and I appreciate your effort.” Short, sharp effective and can encourage people to keep going if things are tough.
- Public recognition
Publicly thanking a team member or members is often a winner. As long as those you are thanking won’t feel like they want to crawl into a hole and hide away from all the eyes looking at them! Know your team members. Openly recognising the contributions people are making to the business and the benefits of this again can validate effort of those involved and inspires others to do the same – because it’s worth it!
- A simple note of thanks
The old-fashioned hand written note can really make an impact. You could accompany this with a small gift for extra impact. This requires a little more thought and time. For extra impact, you could send a hand written note to partners or the family of team members who have been going over and above, particularly if they are spending a lot of time away from home to thank them for also supporting the business. Again, a little gift also can make a HUGE impact here.
- A small reward
Sometimes the words of thanks with a small gift the team member can spend on themselves or family away from work also works a treat. A dinner voucher, movie vouchers, red balloon or something thoughtful that your team member will really appreciate. You don’t have to spend a fortune; it’s the recognition that counts.
How you make others feel is a reflection of who you are. Never be too busy for what really matters. And this matters.