Business publications have a steady stream of articles noting how transformational leaders use acknowledgement to increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and profitability. If you do a search online, you will find a wide choice of survey results that add statistics to validate acknowledgement’s importance and effectiveness. A wide variety of occupations, industries and geographies around the world all confirm the value of acknowledgement.

The case has been made for all of us to consider and accept or reject. 

Effectively Using Acknowledgement Has Two Sides

Initially, you might assume that this data means finding only positive items about individuals, teams, divisions, etc. One definition of acknowledgement is “the action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something”. Transformational leaders tell stories of ways, big and small, that they have practiced acknowledging employees. The business results they share are often stunning.

On a closer look, you learn that what the transformational leaders say and how they use acknowledgement for increased effectiveness is not just about the good stuff. Another definition of acknowledgement is “acceptance of the truth or existence of something”. Being an effective leader requires mastering how to provide feedback, input, and direction to employees in a way that they change behavior and/or action and experience being acknowledged by the leader.

Even when you have to give an employee bad news on their performance, you can do it in such a way that they appreciate your input and experience being acknowledged.

Maya Angelou’s Wisdom

As we consider how we might apply acknowledgement in our own companies and lives, this Maya Angelou quote may be helpful. I heard it several years ago at a conference on new product development, and it stuck with me.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you are thinking that a simple act such as acknowledgement is not potent enough to qualify as a “power tool”, take a few minutes and do your own search using your favorite search engine. The data is compelling.

Bonnie Wingate, Partner

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