As we near year-end many leaders are thinking about how to recognize their employees. While special gestures are always a good idea, leaders would do well to think about how much they recognize contributions every day.
To “have a good boss” means different things to every one. One person wants to be left alone and given more autonomy. Another wants to be involved in higher-level meetings and decisions – to be mentored and learn from their boss. Someone else wants a consistent and reliable boss, one that they can predict and not get anxious trying to second-guess. Another person likes a boss who is energetic and creative and engaged – who is always available for spur-of-the-moment conversations about work or about today’s news.
How can you please everyone, without being inauthentic and frantically shape-shifting?
Most good performers agree that they want to be seen at work. They would like someone else to notice how meaningful and unique their contribution is – even if they have the same job description as 100s of others. They want to be valued. Whether they are the newest person and still in learning mode, or especially if they have been around a long time, people show up for work willingly when it is clear to them that it matters.
Going into 2017, think about ways that you can recognize employees all year round. Here are some suggestions that cover diverse needs:
- Make time to look at people when you greet them. If you are looking at output, also look at the person behind the work. If its virtual, use the person’s name in your message and include a sentence or two that tells them you “see” them in their work.
- In person, spontaneously engage people in conversation about their work. Be curious and show an interest. Especially do this without being critical or when you don’t have a specific need to check on things. Don’t let distance and travel distract you from keeping in touch.
- Share information that might be of interest to others. This is easier to do if you are paying attention to who does what. Forward articles and essays. Share opinion pieces and then follow up with a chat to compare impressions. If you are a leader, sharing a little bit about yourself can make it easier for others to relax around you.
- Ask for their opinion. Nothing says respect clearer than to ask someone what they suggest. Don’t ask for input if you’re committed to your own way. But try asking for input on even the smallest thing – like how to word an email or what to have for lunch.
- Keep asking people what they are interested in learning and doing. Let people try something new. Even if you are disappointed in the result, stay optimistic about the process. Learning comes from trial and error, and letting people fail gracefully will build loyalty and commitment.