Simple Ways to Show Appreciation at Work

Simple ways to show appreciation at work 

Similar to trust, appreciation is relationship-based — each interaction with someone strengthens or weakens that invisible connection. The more we feel appreciated, the stronger those bonds become, and the more tension they can withstand when something challenges it. Consequently, knowing how to build and maintain relationships where people feel appreciated is a foundational skill — one that’s important to learn from the very early stages of your career.

While appreciation is something you can express, it’s also something you can show through your actions and behaviors. If you – as a manager or an individual contributor — want to build the kind of relationships where people feel valued, communication flows, and great work gets done, it’s important to expand your understanding of appreciation beyond verbal expressions and learn to show people you value them as well.

Show your appreciation for people’s presence.

To feel a sense of belonging, people must know that others care that they are there. Sure, we all get paid to show up to our jobs every day. But the reality is that our peers and direct reports could choose to work elsewhere. Letting someone know their presence is having an impact on you or the organization can make a big difference. Managers and individual contributors alike can share this appreciation with the following actions:

  • Although it sounds like basic decency, greet people when they arrive at the office or join a meeting, and say goodbye when they leave.
  • Notice when people are missing at work and reach out: “I haven’t seen you at work for three days. Just checking in to make sure you’re okay?”
  • If people work late or cover for you or others, notice and acknowledge what they are doing. Bring them a cup of coffee and let them know you are ready to cover for them in the future.
  • Even if it is people’s job to be there, thank them for coming. 

Show your appreciation of people’s ideas and contributions.

Creating a psychologically safe environment where people openly share ideas and speak up when there is a problem is everyone’s job. Managers and individual contributors alike need to show colleagues that their input is welcome and celebrated.

Leaders can role model how to treat one another by actively seeking and amplifying other people’s ideas, and individual contributors can do the same with their peers. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Managers

  • Nurture a culture of sharing ideas by asking for employee input in each staff meeting.
  • Honor people’s ideas and expertise by talking them up in senior leader meetings: “Maria is actually the one who came up with the idea for this project and has been leading the team to make the result happen!”
  • In meetings, ask quiet, less vocal team members to share input or ideas on projects: “Keshia, what do you think about this? I would love to hear your ideas on the project.”

Individual Contributor

  • When people share input or feedback on a project, whether you like their idea or not, actively listen. Nod along, ask questions, and thank them for sharing.
  • When working on a project, ask others for feedback and ideas on how to improve.
  • Adopt a “Yes, and” mentality when it comes to other people’s ideas. Instead of saying “I disagree,” say, “Yes, and what about…?” and share another idea or addition to their idea.
  • When someone has a great idea that people did not hear, bring it to the attention of others: “I want to bring the attention back to an idea Ethan shared earlier. Ethan, would you mind repeating?”
  • If someone gives you credit for another person’s ideas, direct their praise to the correct person: “Thank you for noticing, but that was all John’s idea! Make sure you let him know, he will love to know you feel this way!”

Show your appreciation of people’s lives outside of work.

Our jobs should help us live our best lives, not take them over. For our employees to feel appreciated, they need to know that we understand their passions, priorities, and responsibilities outside of work.

People need leaders who respect boundaries and role model self care, and coworkers who nurture a culture of support. Here are a few ideas. 

Managers

  • In order to appreciate people’s lives outside of work, you need to know about them. Take the time to ask about your direct reports’ weekends, holidays, and hobbies outside of work. Learn about their families, kids, and what they do for fun.
  • Display work-life balance by having a life outside of work yourself. For example, leave work to go to your kids’ events to show others that balance is encouraged.
  • Avoid scheduling meetings before 9 am and after 5 pm so people are not forced to choose between making the boss happy and living their lives.
  • Avoid sending emails on weekends, late at night, and on vacations.
  • If someone has a major life change — like getting married, having a child, losing a loved one, having surgery, or going through a divorce — ask how you and the team can best support them. Put a note in your calendar to check in a month later. It can make a world of difference to your colleague that you remember.
  • Before making a request at 5 pm on a Friday, think about how the request may impact your employee’s life outside of work. If it can wait until Monday, let it. 

Individual Contributor

  • One of the best ways to support people’s lives outside of work is to always keep them in mind when you’re at work. Every time we fail to deliver on time, show up, or do our tasks, it has an impact on others. When we don’t do our work to the best of our abilities, it means someone else’s work is impacted. The best way to respect people’s lives outside of work is to honor and respect their time at work. Be an extraordinary coworker.
  • Take time to understand your coworkers’ lives outside of work. Ask them about their families, hobbies, and how they spend their time.
  • Nurture a community of support in your office by stepping up for each other when one of you goes on vacation, has a doctor’s appointment, or needs to attend an important event.

Show your appreciation of people’s need for growth and development.

One of the main reasons employees give for leaving jobs is a lack of development opportunities. While many people think development is about promotions and attending trainings, it’s also about being around people who challenge us — managers that take time to understand and support our career goals, and coworkers who help us learn and grow. Give the following a try.

Managers

  • If you don’t already know the career goals and aspirations of your direct reports, take time to understand them. Learn about what skills they want to develop and the kinds of projects they want to be working on. What topics are interesting to them and what kind of role do they see themselves in in five years?
  • Once you know people’s goals, actively find opportunities that can help them develop those skills through stretch assignments, job shadowing, conferences, internal presentations, or challenging projects. Be sure to debrief and help the person link the skills they are developing to the assignment they’re working on.
  • Have regular “stay conversations” to make sure your direct reports feel fulfilled at work and that they are learning and growing in their roles.
  • If your employee has the desire to go back to school or earn professional certification, find ways to help them carve time out in their schedule to take classes.
  • If someone is excelling in their position, and there is no room to move up in your company, help them explore opportunities at other companies. Let them know you will be their reference if they find an opportunity for growth outside of your organization.

Individual Contributor

  • Ask your coworkers for feedback and tips on how you can improve and invite them to do the same with you: “Maria, thank for attending my presentation I would love you’re your input. What are one or two things could I do next time to improve?”
  • Take time to learn about the career goals of the people on your team and find ways to support them to work toward them: “Jon, I am curious what are some of your career goals? Is there anything I can do to support you with the experience and knowledge I have?
  • If you hear about learning opportunities or networking events, or find interesting articles they may help your coworker, share them.
  • When a colleague gets a promotion, celebrate with them. “Hey Vas, I just saw the announcement you were promoted! It made my day to see and just wanted you to know I excited for you.”

Source: Christopher Littlefield, Harvard Business Review

“Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret”. 
– Mary Kay Ash

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

Your Group

This fun, interactive feature helps teams work better together. By combining DiSC with actionable group insights, teams build cohesion while adapting their behaviors for optimal performance. Learners can create multiple groups, plot members on a DiSC map, and shed light on team dynamics that influence results.

7 Ideas for Continuous Virtual Team Building

7 ideas for continuous virtual team building

We all have become more familiar with the virtual world over the years, whether we have wanted to or not. Team building can be difficult when you are not face to face so here are seven ideas to promote team building through a screen.

    1. Leverage technology

    If your company has embraced remote work, your teams likely have already been videoconferencing. This is essential for enabling colleagues to see each other face to face.Videoconferencing certainly isn’t the only technology you can harness to reduce the perception of distance between people. Also consider using:

    • Technology platforms (e.g. Slack, Microsoft Teams) through which people can post messages, chat and share pictures, for example
    • Social media (e.g., private Facebook chat groups or similar)
    • IM

    These additional options promote more frequent, direct communication between individuals, and can help to recreate some of the spontaneous or more relaxed conversations that people would have in the office.

    1. Schedule regular virtual meetings

    It’s one thing to videoconference at all, and it’s another thing to commit to doing it regularly. If you want your teams to feel a real sense of camaraderie and familiarity, scheduling meetings at least once per week is optimal. This includes both:

    • Team meetings
    • One-on-one meetings with direct reports

    Allow time in each meeting for small talk and personal discussion, during which employees can talk about what’s going on with them either at work – including how they may need support – or outside work.

    1. Take personal quizzes and share the results

    An essential component of teamwork training is understanding where other people are coming from, and how that impacts their working and communication styles.

    Why not have your team take a personality quiz, such as the popular DISC assessment, and share their results with each other over a video call? This has the benefit of:

    • Increasing self-awareness
    • Educating colleagues about each other
    • Enhancing empathy and emotional intelligence (EQ)
    • Decreasing the potential for conflict
    1. Host virtual events

    Who says you can’t throw events in a virtual environment? If you videoconference for work, you can also videoconference to socialize and strengthen relationships among colleagues.

    Invite your team to gather virtually for lunch or happy hour – whatever is appropriate for their time zone.

    During these events, you could ask employees to share a few photos of their favorite memories or major life events over the past year to discuss with the group. Or, you can play some fun games (more details coming up next). Have a bigger budget to play with? Try coffee or chocolate tasting sessions.

    1. Play games

    The possibilities here are endless, but the goal is the same: To have fun and share a laugh and friendly competition with colleagues while learning about each other.

    Game ideas:

    • Online bingo
    • Online escape rooms
    • Getting to know each other games, for example:
      • “This or That,” during which employees answer a series of questions about their personal preferences and can talk a bit more about themselves, such as:
        • Beach or lake?
        • Coffee or tea?
        • Movie/TV shows or books?
      • Kahoot, which is an app in which game administrators can pick a few categories (ex., favorite vacation destination or pets’ names), employees create their own questions and answers, and their colleagues have to guess the correct answers
    1. Establish virtual mentor-mentee pairings or virtual work buddies

    Mentorship programs can exist in virtual spaces, too. Similarly to how entire teams and managers and direct reports meet regularly, mentors and mentees should also videoconference on a regular basis to check in and give mentees an opportunity to ask questions or obtain coaching.

    If a remote employee is new to the organization or has recently changed roles or teams, it can also be helpful for their manager to assign them to a workplace buddy. This person can help to facilitate their transition, answer questions and just serve as a familiar face.

    1. Move employee resource, or affinity, groups online

    Employee resource groups and employee affinity groups can be a great opportunity for remote employees to get involved with an organization and establish connections with people who share their life circumstances, interests or hobbies.

    For example, employees who are former veterans or who are interested in supporting veterans in the workplace could videoconference regularly to discuss those issues and share ideas.

    Or, employees who enjoy reading or movies could form virtual book and movie clubs. Similarly, employees who are interested in fitness and personal wellbeing could create virtual groups focused on those topics – and even create virtual challenges.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” 
– Michael Jordan

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

3 Things Your Future Employees Want (and What You Can Do About it…)

When it comes to what talent management in the future might look like, a 2020 study points to three defining priorities among knowledge workers.

The last year has forever changed the way employees view and approach work, but one thing holds true: Businesses that want to attract and retain the talent they need to move forward must understand the top priorities of their future workforce. They must embrace new, flexible work models and cultivate a workforce that can design their own careers. Employees want to determine when and where they work. They want to work with a diverse team. They want to be measured on the value they deliver, not the volume they deliver. And they expect to be given the space and trust they need to do their very best work, wherever they happen to be. Companies that understand and embrace these wants and needs will not only boost the motivation and engagement of their existing workers, but will gain the attention of the brightest new recruits and take their business to new heights.

1. Employees overwhelmingly expect flexible options.

According to the study, 88% of knowledge workers say that when searching for a new position, they will look for one that offers complete flexibility in their hours and location. Also 83% predict that in response to the global skilled talent shortage, companies will leverage flexible work models to reach out to suitable candidates no matter where they live — yet, only 66% of HR directors feel the same. What’s more:

  • 76% of the workers polled believe that employees will be more likely to prioritize lifestyle (family and personal interests) over proximity to work, and will pursue jobs in locations where they can focus on both — even if it means taking a pay cut.
  • 83% of employees think that workers will be more likely to move out of cities and other urban locations if they can work remotely for a majority of the time, creating new work hubs in rural areas.

In order to position themselves to win in the future, companies will need to meet employees where they are.

2. Employees want to re-imagine how productivity is measured.

In the future, companies will need to rethink how they measure productivity because traditional metrics — and views that real work can’t get done outside the office — will no longer cut it. According to the study, today’s employees want to be measured on the value they deliver, not the volume. And they expect to be given the space and trust they need to do their very best work, wherever they happen to be.

  • 86% of employees said they would prefer to work for a company that prioritizes outcomes over output. What does this mean? New employees want to work for a company that cares less about the qualified work output they are able to produce, and more about the impact they can deliver to the business in a holistic sense.
  • But there is a gap here, with just 69% of HR directors saying that their company currently operates in this way, and only half of HR directors saying that their organization would be more productive as a whole if employees felt that their employer/senior management team trusted them to get the job done without monitoring their progress.

Forward-thinking companies will focus on closing this gap, and will design people-centric experiences that give employees the space they need to unlock their full potential and deliver transformative results.

3. Employees want to work with a diverse team.

One thing on which both employees and managers seem to agree? Employees want to work for a company that prioritizes diversity.

  • 86% of employees and 66% of HR directors assert that a diverse workforce will become even more important as roles, skills, and company requirements change over time.
  • Honest, accessible metrics around your diversity progress and remaining gaps are critical to ensuring that efforts to build a diverse team are measurable, targeted, and impactful.

Takeaway for Leaders

What should the major takeaways be for business leaders when it comes to the implications of these findings?

1. See the forest through the trees.

Without the restriction of location, business leaders must look at their recruiting from a broader lens and expand the potential to attract employees who can boost an organization’s creativity and productivity.

They might, for instance, dip into untapped pools of talent such as the “home force” and bring back parents who’ve put their careers on hold to care for children, or people who left jobs to tend to aging relatives. It could also mean looking to Baby Boomers who’ve retired, but who still want to work a few hours per week. And it could mean enlisting more part-time, contract, and gig workers — who make up a larger percentage of the workforce than ever — to take on more hours. And, of course, it means looking for global talent that may reside anywhere.

2. Prioritize learning and development.

New business models sparked by the pandemic and changes in customer preferences and needs have given rise to new roles and opportunities for companies — and their employees — to grow. Upskilling and reskilling will be critical factor in capitalizing on them. As the study found:

  • 82% of employees and 62% of HR directors believe that workers will need to hone their current skills or acquire new ones at least once a year in order to maintain competitive advantage in a global job market.
  • HR directors believe that ensuring that an organization has the latest collaborative technology in place to enable agile learning is the most important factor in recruiting and retaining the best talent, and 88% of employees confirm this notion, saying that they look for this when searching for a new position.

It bears repeating: Organizations will need to prioritize reskilling and upskilling to attract and retain the talent they need to make their businesses grow. Those that do will not only boost the motivation of their existing workers, but will gain the attention of the brightest new recruits and position themselves to emerge from the pandemic not just where they were, but in a stronger, better position to move forward.

The last year has forever changed the way employees view and approach work, but one thing holds true: Businesses that want to attract and retain the talent they need to move forward must understand the top priorities of their future workforce. They must embrace new, flexible work models and cultivate a workforce that can design their own careers. In doing so, they will not only boost the motivation and engagement of their existing workers, but will gain the attention of the brightest new recruits and take their business to new heights.

Source: by Tim Minahan via Harvard Business Review

Staying Focused Amid Distractions

Working from home can be a welcome change – whether your workplace offers a flexible workplace schedule, allowing you to work from home some days while the kids are off for the summer, or this is your official office workplace.

While it has many benefits to you and your employer, be careful not to fall prey to distractions – One scenario….He sets his computer up on his dining room table, and is ready to get to work. Three hours later, however, he’s shocked to realize that he’s completed very little. What’s he been doing? Well, he had to make coffee. Then he did a load of laundry, took a phone call from a friend, and sorted through the mail when it arrived. One thing led to another, and now he’s really behind!

Working from home can be incredibly productive. But it’s also full of distractions. If you work from home, it’s up to you to make sure you’re doing a full day of focused, productive work. Below are some benefits and challenges to working from home and tips to help you be at your most productive during the day.

Benefits and Challenges

There are many benefits to working at home. For instance:

  • You can be more productive when you’re not distracted by casual phone calls, impromptu meetings at your desk, or interruptions from other team members.
  • You can be more relaxed and have better morale because your schedule is flexible and fits your needs. This can lead to less stress.
  • You can save money, including the costs of commuting, lunches out and work clothes.
  • You’ll have more time, as you won’t need to commute to work.

Of course, for all the benefits of working at home, there are also a number of challenges:

  • Working at home can be incredibly distracting if you’re not self-disciplined, especially if family members are also around during the day.
  • Without interaction with team members, you can feel isolated.
  • You may find it more difficult to be productive when you’re unsupervised. (This also includes “supervision” by the people you manage!)
  • Working from home can make it hard to separate work hours from off hours, causing you to work more.
  • People at the office can forget that you exist, meaning that you’re not selected for interesting or high profile projects.

Working at home is definitely not for everyone. Some people love the freedom and have the required self-discipline, while others need supervision to be effective, or yearn for the energy and camaraderie of a busy office environment.

Tips for working from home, whether temporarily or as part of your regular schedule:

Workspace – Having a productive and comfortable workspace is particularly important when working from home:

  • Have a dedicated workspace –preferably not your kitchen table! Ideally, this space should be a separate room with a door that you can close to shut off distractions. The more you make it feel like a real “office,” the more productive you’ll be and able to close the door after you, means you’re “off work.”
  • Get an ergonomic office chair – If your chair is uncomfortable, you’ll probably find plenty of reasons to get up and go somewhere else.
  • Make sure your “office” is a place where you enjoy spending time – Put some effort into making your working area appealing to you.

Organization – It’s important to keep your home office organized:

  • Make sure your desk is big enough – This will vary, depending on the type of work you do. Keep essential tools in an area that you can reach from your desk; this reduces frustration, and avoids the need to get up repeatedly when you need something.
  • Tidy your desk daily – Spend a few minutes at the end of each day clearing off your desk and filing papers.
  • Organize your information – If you work on several different projects at once, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disorganized because you’re handling so much information. Pull out what you need as you work on it; everything else, file until you are ready for it.

Time Management – Good time management skills are essential for productive working at home:

  • Create structure for your day – Get up, take breaks, and quit working at the same time you would if you were at the office. This helps create a rhythm for your day and a sense of normalcy.
  • Prioritize daily tasks with a to-do list   – Knowing that certain items must get done by the end of the day will help you avoid distractions.
  • Make a to-do list of “in between” items – These are tasks that won’t take more than 10 minutes to complete. For instance, if you have a conference call 15 minutes from now, you can choose one of these shorter tasks that you can complete quickly.
  • Keep a timesheet – It’s easy to lose track of how much time you’ve spent on a certain project or client. Avoid this by keeping detailed timesheets. By tracking your time, your organization will be able to see how you’ve spent it. You can also identify when you are most productive.

Communication-As you’re not “visible” in the office, communication is especially important when working from home:

  • Communicate effectively with your managers and co-workers – They need to know that you are, indeed, working productively and available, even when you’re not at the office! If possible, redirect your office phone extension to your home phone.
  • Use tools like Skype or instant messaging – These allow people to check in with you during the day if they have questions or need an update. You can always set your status to “busy” or “unavailable” if you want to focus on a particular piece of work.
  • Go into the office on a regular basis – Where possible, do make the effort to go into the office one or more days each week. Not only will this help you remind others that you exist, it helps with the social relationships

Time tips

  • Train your children to let you work – Working from home with young children in the house can be especially challenging, and it’s almost impossible to do work of any quality while you’re looking after them. Make sure that you have appropriate childcare in place, and teach your children that when you’re in your office, you’re “away.” Put a sign on the door to help them remember. Although don’t be too rigid here: one of the real joys of working from home is, for example, being around to welcome your children home from school. Make sure that you take a little time to enjoy simple pleasures like these!).
  • Beware the Internet! – If you find yourself drawn, for example, to Internet news sites, use some of the time you save commuting to read these in-depth before the start of the working day. They’ll have little attraction if you’ve already read the most interesting content. And if you’re still struggling, you can use tools like Freedom and Anti-Social to block Internet or social media access for a pre-determined length of time.
  • Set alarms – If you tend to waste too much time on the Internet or with other distractions, then set an alarm clock or kitchen timer for one hour at a time. Do one hour of focused work – and when the alarm goes off, reward yourself with 5 or 10 minutes of doing whatever distracts you. Then set the timer for another hour of work.
  • Dress in work clothes – You’ll probably feel more productive if you dress just as if you were going into the office.

Home working is becoming more and more common. Make sure you have a dedicated, comfortable workspace that you like. Schedule your day just like you would at the office. If you often lose focus, identify what’s distracting you and try to eliminate it from your day. And, if possible, get involved socially with your team. Working from home can be isolating, so you need to make an extra effort to build your work relationships.

 

Source: MindTools.com