Drive Engagement and Build High Performers With This One Simple Practice
A client recently shared how impressed he was with the effort his team put into thinking through a new strategy for their business. He articulated how creative and committed they were to building out the best solution. I could feel his pride.
Then I asked if he shared this with his team. There was silence. Next, he took action and sent out an email (being the end of the day) to express his appreciation for the work his team was doing along with how well they were doing it. He was also committed to letting them know in person.
This goes a long way in having your team feel you care about them as people and not just what they are able to accomplish. In a high turnover, resource-stretched environment, people are more likely to stay if they feel cared about and appreciated.
Recognition is a powerful motivator and inspires people to give their best. It also reinforces your leadership brand and how you become known as a leader.
HIGHEST DRIVER OF ENGAGEMENT
According to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson in 2007-2008, the highest driver of engagement is whether or not employees feel their managers or leaders are interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40% of employees felt engaged.
Appreciating is simply recognizing what is good. It reinforces the fact that you care about them as a person. Appreciation should never be assumed.
When delivering a Personal Brand Mastery session to a leadership team, who worked together for about seven years, I asked them to each share something personal about themselves that others wouldn’t already know. I thought this would be challenging because they’ve known each other for so long. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t. They never really shared at this level.
This simple exchange of sharing something personal opened up a deeper level of appreciation and conversation within the group. They all became more animated and engaged as the day went on. This one exercise changed the dynamics of how the team worked together moving forward.
People want to be seen as a person and know others care.
It bears mentioning that expressing appreciation once isn’t enough; it needs to be repeated to become a habit. Let’s say one of your personal brand descriptors (how you want to be known) is considerate. This label doesn’t stick if you hold the door open for someone once. It sticks if you are consistent in being considerate.
Appreciation needs to be extended consistently to have people know that you care. It can include small wins (showing up for the meeting on time) along with big wins (completing the project on time and under budget).
Looking to develop high performers? There is a ratio that was discovered in a study conducted in 1999 by Marcial Losada (Director, Center of Advanced Research). The magic ratio for high performance is five expressions of positive feedback to one expression of negative feedback.
Why aren’t we all expressing appreciation more often? Why does it sometimes feel awkward or forced?
The most obvious answer is we are not fluent in practicing appreciation. We have become so accustomed to speaking to what doesn’t work or addressing the problems that we stopped taking that one extra step to say thank you.
To help you incorporate appreciation into your daily activities here are seven practical ideas you can implement as a leader to create a higher level of engagement immediately.
- Begin meetings by sharing accomplishments before tackling the to-do-list and problems. Share what has gone well first. This will shift the energy for the balance of the meeting and allow your team to be more open to what comes next.
- Stay committed to your one-on-one meetings even when there are no problems to discuss. This time provides a great opportunity to talk about what the person is doing well and learn more about him/her. Honouring your meeting times makes employees feel valued. (The top frustration I hear from leaders is the cancellation of personal meetings.)
- When a team member exceeds expectations reach out to him/her and extend your appreciation. An email can work if you are not physically there, although in person is always more meaningful. What you appreciate grows.
- Repeat a private acknowledgement for a job well done publicly in a group setting when appropriate. This boosts self-esteem and confidence. It also reinforces their value and significance.
- When closing a meeting, express your appreciation for everyone’s commitment to the project and their contribution to moving it forward. A small gesture with a huge payback.
- When you notice positive changes in a colleague’s leadership style, let him/her know. Especially if you know they are attending training sessions or are engaged in coaching. Reinforcement creates sustainability.
- Ask others what they care about. If you find out they played in a tournament over the weekend or participated in a run for cancer ask them about it. Genuine appreciation makes them feel safe and frees them up to do their best work.
YOUR APPRECIATION CHALLENGE
Over the next thirty days, commit to expressing appreciation a minimum of five times a day. Notice what happens when you do this.
As you make it part of your daily practice you’ll find yourself naturally doing it a lot more. When you focus on ways to express appreciation, the way you see the world around you starts to change.
Align yourself with what matters most to you. Live your brand fully expressed with intention and purpose to play bigger!
If you are interested in having a conversation to explore how you can define your personal brand and accelerate your growth as a leader, individually or as a team, e-mail me to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation.