Creative LMent

I believe that creativity is a powerful skill that can be practiced and developed. I hope my blog inspires you to find your very own "creative lment". ~LM

Appreciation: Small But Powerful Gestures

3 x 3 Note Card from Creative LMent

3 x 3 Note Card from Creative LMent

We’ve all heard the saying “people are our most valued asset”.  And it’s true – people, and the relationships we have with them, are the definitive ingredient in building successful teams.  And while most every modern management course or educational program will allude to this point, many of us do not take the time to say “thank you”, even when only a small, but genuine gesture, is all that is needed.

In the not too distant past, I was the lead on a Employee Recognition for a local government wide young professionals group.  It was my first time developing recognition policies and guidelines, but through the support of my team members and corporate HR consultants, our committee was able to launch its own program in a short time frame. As part of our informal program, I distributed small surprise packages – not only to each member, but to each member’s immediate manager. These “pre-launch” packages included a personalized thank you letter signed by our Executive Sponsor and a small branded gift.  “Thank you” was long overdue. The team had been working for several years, at the grace of many a manager who allowed participation during work hours. I wanted to make sure both were fully recognized for their contributions.  Our members were more than pleased with our efforts – and the resulting goodwill increased our membership, enhanced relationships, increased productivity and raised our profile.  This was a very positive experience for me, and helped solidified my belief that “thank you” can have incredible impacts.

People have a need to feel valued and appreciated in whatever they do. Knowing this, many businesses have developed formal programs which celebrate specific achievements publically, often through a nomination process or executively announced award. These start off as well intentioned programs which strive to promote behaviors or values exhibited by an employee or team.

While excitement starts off strong, it isn’t long before some staff begin to denounce the program’s validity. Perhaps there is a feeling that some groups are being favoured, or worse, that the wrong people are receiving recognition for the work. It is in these instances that a recognition program begins to transmit the corporate wide message that things in the organization are “unfair”, and this sense of injustice is like poison to the moral of any group.  In fact, our young professional survey results indicated that only 49% of members preferred public recognition – much less than we originally expected.  Most preferred a private gesture of appreciation!

The strongest impact with a recognition program is found in every day “small” gestures. One of my favorite past managers really knew how to incorporate recognition in her day-to-day role.  She kept small blank cards in her desk, and always took the time to scribe a personal note to recognize a job well done.  This simple act created a chain reaction which trickled down into every level of our hierarchy – and quickly empowered managers and staff to recognize each other.

Don’t we all want to be in a workplace that values employees? Well, the good news is we don’t have to wait.  Start small, perhaps with some of your closest colleagues- or a project team.  Have confidence that your actions will create goodwill and enhance your relationships, and know that overtime, such positive actions will be recepicated and mirrored by those around you. ~ LM


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