Do you have a team member who sulks or gets frustrated that no one is acknowledging their efforts or that no one appreciates the work they do?

The current paradigm suggests the manager should recognize and appreciate their team members.  And they should.  I have a whole training on how to create meaningful appreciation and recognition (quick tip: no company tchotchkes).

Unfortunately though this paradigm only gets you so far – because contrary to popular belief, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head.  You don’t see all the times your team members go above and beyond or learn a new skill or mentor a fellow team member.

Here’s an additional, easy way to create powerful retention warm fuzzy goodness.  Bring personal responsibility to it:  have your people request the recognition and appreciation they want.

In your team meeting or in your one-on-ones, have your team share with you what they would like to be appreciated for.  Then listen with full presence and eye contact and then simply recognize them with heartfelt appreciation exactly for what they shared.  Bonus points if you also then add the impact of their efforts – what it meant to you, the team and your organization.

For example, you can ask, “Tell me, what would you like to be recognized for?”

You might hear:

  • I’d like to be recognized for helping that demanding client when no one else wanted to.
  • I’d like to be appreciated for staying late last Friday to help Mary out.
  • I’d like to be acknowledged for finally figuring out how to get here on time every day.
  • I’d like to be commended for being vulnerable and sharing my mistake with the team so everyone could learn from it.
  • I’d like to be appreciated for really taking on learning the new software and helping my teammates navigate it as well.

Then following the first two examples above, you can say back – with the bonus points option:

  • Joe, I recognize your willingness to step up and help that demanding client when no one else wanted to. You exemplify to our entire team our character value of Courage.  I can count on you to not only not hide in the face of challenges, but to rise up to them.
  • Jane, I appreciate you making the extra effort to stay late last Friday night to help Mary out. I know that without your help, Mary wouldn’t have made it to her daughter’s birthday party.  I also know you sacrificed arriving on time for your Friday family dinner.  You truly are a team player, committed to our work and this team.  Having you on my team literally allows me to sleep better at night.

Learn more about the tricky topic of employee recognition here. Also here.

Where to go from here.

Few things tear apart teams and organizations quite like there being an experience of unfairness in the workplace.

Understanding and taking control of fairness is critical for the motivation that any real growth requires.

Check out Fair is Not A Dirty Word

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