I close my eyes as tight as they can go. The lights go off, and my imagination switches on. Pictures flash through my mind like an old film from the sixties. My life has been filled with many great people who have taken the time to invest encouraging words when I needed them most. It was like they read my mail. These giants have shared words that ignited my confidence along the way. Whether it was working on my 5th grade science project or going with my aunt to take my drivers license test in her huge Chrysler New Yorker, I was fortunate to have learned about the gift of encouragement. Words do last and these kind of encouraging words are gifts that will never be forgotten.
Real leaders understand the power of encouragement in the life of the people they lead.
People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People really need help but may attack you if you help them. Help people anyway. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. ~ Mother Teresa
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams
Most new employee orientations spent very little time preparing leaders on how to give praise or recognition to their staff. Every leader is expected to find their own way to balance growing office expectations and employee appreciation. In fact, one of the greatest work satisfaction indicators mentioned by employees is a good working relationship with your boss. I believe the biggest barrier today in showing real appreciation lies in leadership ego or being too busy. It is easy to spot a leader who is happy to take all the praise for the work of the team. I think becoming self-absorbed is one of the greatest leadership mistake you can make.
Today’s leaders now find themselves in an uncertain economy, tight budgets, greater work expectations and less commitment to develop a long term relationship with employees.
Leaders who want to beat those odds must find ways to build a great team of people that are committed and engaged in the daily process. Usually those opportunities come in the words we share everyday. Encouraging words are powerful tools.
Here are five reasons why employee praise and recognition are important to give.
1. Words have the power to motivate or tear down. Sometimes we allow our emotions to say things that can actually hurt or even damage employee relationships. However when they are used correctly, they are great opportunities to ignite even greater passion.
2. Timing is everything in giving recognition. The note you wanted to write or the note that came three months after the event doesn’t have the same impact. Generic thank you letters written to everyone are missed opportunities. Missed opportunities can be a creditability buster.
3. People usually leave a boss before they leave an organization. Recognition usually indicates a real value for the employee. Does your current actions indicate the right level of each employee’s worth and appreciation. If not, can you afford to lose them?
4. We tend to invest in what we feel is important. How much professional development dollars are you spending on your staff? Employees stay longer when there are career development opportunities. It also expresses the value that we have for their future.
5. Great leaders don’t wait until annual evaluations or Christmas cards to say the things they need to express for great work. They express it daily through the important assignments, public praise and they find unique private ways to indicate it to their staff.
When the complaints come in – which they do in every business – it is important to have given enough praise to grow from those experiences. Office settings that don’t have enough recognition tend to be less willing to admit mistakes. This accountability measure creates a lack of trust in the work environment. The human bucket can only hold so much – so we should all work to develop our staff with the right balance of feedback and recognition. Happy and engaged employees can take your company and leadership to a whole new level.
Can you think of a time when encouraging words change the course of your career?