The words that leaders use when speaking to their team, especially the words that show appreciation for their employees' strengths, are like air and water - essential for survival on the job.
There are right and wrong ways to show appreciation. Flattery is not the right way. Flattery only raises more questions with the recipient, such as, "What does he want from me?"
A show of genuine appreciation that really works contains two key elements:
- It identifies the strength you believe the employee is showing, such as preparation, dedication, attention to detail, enthusiasm, and a myriad of others.
- It contains a specific example of that strength at work.
For example, during a recent presentation to a big potential client, Brenda put in many late nights getting her research done and putting together the materials for the meeting. After the meeting, you could tell her, "Brenda, I want to thank you for your efforts in getting ready for this meeting. Everything was ready in advance and you had a firm grasp of all the information needed to deliver our message to this important potential client. That level of preparedness is really appreciated."
I challenge you to take the time over the next few weeks to express appreciation to at least 20 associates. If you are rolling your eyes at this notion, you are not alone. I give this same challenge to leaders I coach in my consulting practice and am often met with heads shaking and eyes rolling.
When those same hesitant leaders come back to report their progress weeks later, I see a totally different attitude and an enthusiasm for continuing the practice - because it works!
You will begin to see better relationships emerge with your team and improved performance from those you are appreciating. If you continue for at least 30 days to regularly catch your team doing something right, it will no longer be something you do but rather the kind of person you are becoming, that is, a leader who brings out the best in his or her associates!