I received a letter in the mail the other day. It was from my office. Like most of us, I have not been in my company’s corporate office in many, many months now. I get sent supplies from time to time, but these were not supplies. It was a small business envelope thoughtfully addressed in pretty cursive writing with a little smiley face. I couldn’t imagine what it might be. I opened it up to find a color print note that said:
“We just wanted to say
Thank you for your hard work during these unusual times. We are proud of you and proud to be your colleagues!
Your Culture Team”
It was accompanied by a gift card. I was surprised and delighted. It was so simple. And despite the small gesture, how it felt was great. I used my little gift card to treat myself to several yummy lattes over a couple of weeks.
Giving Your Listening and Seeing Others
What I felt at that moment was seen and cared about. If there was ever a time between the pandemic, political disagreements, and business challenges, not to mention the holidays which can be hard for people, what better gift to give than to really seek to listen to and see people. What feels good and reassuring and enables me, even inspires me, to move forward and work with my colleagues, for our clients, and for my family is being seen, being heard, and given empathy. When someone listens to you and sees you for what you are committed to, it can be restorative.
Acknowledgment as a Leadership Tool
In all the organizations I am privileged to work with, I never hear “They just acknowledge us too much. There is too much appreciation and acknowledgment here!” Nope, it does not happen. Let’s study acknowledgment and appreciation as a leadership tool. Acknowledgment is defined as: To recognize as being valid; to express recognition of, or to express thanks or gratitude for. Appreciation is defined as: To be fully aware of or sensitive to; to realize; to be thankful or show gratitude for; to admire greatly; to enjoy.
The Gallup Organization has surveyed more than 4 million people on this topic with startling results. An estimated 22 million workers are presently “actively disengaged,” or extremely negative in their workplace.
Gallup’s research shows that people who receive regular recognition and praise:
- increase their individual productivity
- increase engagement among their colleagues
- have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job
- are more likely to stay with the organization longer
- receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers
Filling Another’s Bucket
Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. say in their book How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, “Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say and do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it is empty, we feel awful.” This is a great analogy for what acknowledgment and appreciation provide. “Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions, we also fill our own bucket.”
Consider trying this for your holiday activities and any notes you send out to your colleagues and others in your life who you want to appreciate and acknowledge, or who you think could really use a boost. That is most of us right now.