Do You See Me?
Many employees wait long periods wondering if their leaders “see them”. Why? Because they never receive acknowledgement of their work. Whether it is a criticism or a compliment, research tells us that we are trained by these signals. Acknowledgements create boundaries for our expectations of good and bad performance. We want to please and we want to work within the boundaries – particularly when we are doing well. If we are not doing well, in what areas do we need to improve? Specifically, what are our relevant competencies or key contributions so that we can repeat this behavior?
What do you see?
Acknowledgement is: “Recognition; favorable notice of an act or achievement” as defined by Merriam-Webster. Acknowledgement takes practice.
Here’s a five step process suggested by Leadership Coach, Kevin Fuselier:
- Make it Timely – provide feedback as soon as you can after observing the positive action.
- Be Specific – share details of what was done well and ideally, tie this to company values, a customer, or a department goal.
- Personalize your message – give feedback to individuals directly and privately.
- Be Authentic – be genuine with your words and body language.
- Connect recognition to the work – attribute comments to a specific assignment or project.
How do you start seeing?
Finding the good in others does not come naturally for many of us. You must start where you are now and then it takes practice. Here are a few ideas to get started or to expand your recognition talents.
• Put it on your calendar. Place specific names on dates to review what they’ve been working on. This is not a performance review, it’s more like, “catch them doing something right”. Check out emails, reports, and what they’ve produced. Honestly identify something they’ve done well, and tell them.
• Invest time. Write a card and mail it or place it on their desk; bring or send them something they’d like – a unique candy, something from their favorite sports team, coffee gift card – or mention their accomplishment in a group email or in the company newsletter. When you invest time in employees, they become more engaged. More engaged employees stay on the job longer.
• Walk around – Yep, it may involve a mask, 6’ separation or a casual conversation, yet you’ll get a new view of projects and productivity simply by seeing folks in their own work space. Ask questions and recognize positive work.
Seeing and acknowledging when times are tough
It’s especially important to get out of the cave when times are tough. Are there strict cost cutting measures going on? Is there a pandemic? Is the pipeline of prospects drying up? THIS is the time when we all need to be truly SEEN. When there is a risk of burn-out, get out and show people you care by acknowledging their contributions. Catch progress, identify “on the way to right”, appreciate small successes, grant permission to experiment to find complex solutions.
Finally, for anyone who has someone above them, whatever their title, look up and give them credit. Superiors are always pleasantly surprised when their team and direct-reports acknowledge specific leadership attributes and victories. Commitment, loyalty, productivity and engagement requires all of us to contribute to high functioning people and teams.
“If you have the skills to notice what others do wrong, you also have the observational skills to identify and acknowledge what people do right.”