In Challenging Times, Don't Forget to Recognize Employees for Their Unique Accomplishments
Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. One of the most critical behaviors that leaders enlist to help keep direct reports engaged, determined, and hopeful is to Encourage the Heart. But time and time again, the number one challenge leaders have in Encouraging the Heart is slowing down and taking the time to do it.
In the crazy-paced environment and upside-down world we work in today, it can be easy to get caught up in the craziness, yet it’s when things are the most hectic and the workload is the heaviest that people need to hear they are appreciated for all the hard work they do.
With 35 years of research, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have shown in The Leadership Challenge how leaders can practice key leadership behaviors (called The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®) to improve employee engagement and leadership effectiveness. Their research shows that a key to recognizing others effectively is to "recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence"*.
In every winning team, members need to feel the rewards of their contributions and receive recognition for their accomplishments. Great leaders are able to do just that by celebrating individual accomplishments on their teams and creating a community around shared team victories and values.
There are two main ways that leaders can Encourage the Heart:
- Recognizing team members for going the extra mile: Employees who go above and beyond are doing so because they are passionate and committed; they won’t continue to do so for long if they don’t believe that doing so is appreciated and recognized
- Celebrating victories and values: Creating a shared sense of accomplishment for employees helps each understand their part in the team’s greater achievements and reinforces the values the organization says are important
In today's virtual workplace, you may be struggling to find ways to go find the time to remember to encourage others. Here's a few ways we at FlashPoint have found to encourage our own teammates:
- Taking time during weekly virtual check-ins for company-wide "Cheers for Peers" highlighting how a teammate really went the extra mile on a project.
- Utilizing pulse survey recognition software to send email shout-outs to individuals (that can be seen by the entire team) that can contain personalized animation or stickers.
- Scheduling informal "walk and talks" or "virtual coffee breaks" for teams or small groups.
- Making sure there is time for fun.
- Sending thank you letters to team mates (yes, real snail mail!).
We agree with Jim and Barry when they say: "Being a leader requires showing appreciation for people's contributions, and creating a culture of celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community." How are you developing community and celebrating values in these challenging times? Let us know in the comments — and keep encouraging others, as you would like to be encouraged yourself.
*The Leadership Challenge, 6th edition
To help you embrace the spirit of Encourage the Heart, we’ve collected some quotes that we hope will give you some inspiration.