Guest Post by: Tamara Anderson
Appreciation is a Reward Best Served Fresh
I love carrots. Specifically, I love the little carrots in a bag because you’ve got choices. There are jumbo minis, pretty little disks, the shredded variety, and my all-time favorite, the aren't. They’re easy to eat alone or in a salad and when I add them to my meal, MyFitnessPal gives me accolades for my choice.
But here’s the thing. They’re best when they’re fresh. When you open the bag and they’re bright orange and glistening with a little bit of moisture, you know that first bite is going to be amazing. If not properly stored and cared for, in a few days they start to dry out. They’re still not too bad at that point. At the end of the week, they’ve started to turn white and the flavor and crunch just aren't the same. About mid-way through week 2 in your fridge, they become almost unrecognizable and close to inedible. Your once beautiful, bright, and crispy carrot is now a sad version of itself with white and cracked edges and totally lacking in flavor and crunch.
Employee Appreciation has the same life cycle as the little carrots. When we see something being done well right in front of us, that’s the time to say a few specific words, while it’s fresh in the mind of the person who just did it. Just like when we open that fresh bag of carrots and eat the first one right away.
If we save it for the actual employee appreciation day (the next one is on March 6, 2016), the likelihood that they’ll remember they did it or why it was really important is greatly diminished. Now we’re focusing on 2 week old carrots that have lost all of their flavor and appeal.
3 ways to serve your appreciation fresh:
Yes, you do have time.
One of the most barriers we here when working with clients about giving employee appreciation day to day is “I don’t have time.” True. Adding one more thing to our plate can be challenging. But, if it’s important to engaging your team, it’s important enough to make time for. But let’s really consider how long it takes to give sincere, specific appreciation.
This is a simple formula to help you give employee appreciation in the moment.
What quality or characteristic they exhibited
+ A specific example of why you say that
+ Why it’s important
= Sincere, Specific Appreciation
Try this. Think about something you saw someone do well today (I guarantee you there was something), use this formula and then time yourself when you practice it. It will take you seconds. Now that you’ve got it prepared. Go tell them.
Plant the seeds and watch them grow.
One of the keys to engaging Millennials likes in making them feel valued. In a recent study conducted by Dale Carnegie and Associates, we found that Millennials in particular value appreciation early and often. And they also want to know how their contribution impacts the larger company.
It’s not enough just to plant those seeds, they need to be cared for and nurtured along the way until they grow into a healthy, beautiful carrot.
Serve it the way THEY like it.
I was coaching a group of emerging leaders recently and one of the areas they chose to focus on in their culture was to find creative ways to make people feel valued. Using an assessment tool from The Five Languages of Appreciation by Gary D Chapman, they were able to determine how everyone in the organization liked to be appreciated. Now the tool can be used by managers and teams to create a culture where people feel more valued.
According to Chapman, there are 5 ways we like to be appreciated:
- Words of affirmation – face to face, sincere and specific
- Tangible gifts – choose something “they” prefer
- Quality time – invite them to lunch or sit down to have a conversation
- Acts of service – help them complete a task
- Physical touch – a handshake or pat on the back
When you know how they like to be appreciated, the appreciation itself will increase in value.
Watch for people doing things right. And tell them. While it’s fresh.
When will you start? Will you make Employee Appreciation Day – Today?
Tamara Anderson is a Co-Owner and Team Performance Strategist at Dale Carnegie of ND who aligns business strategies and people practices to drive results. She has a passion for performance, works to exceed the WOW factor, powers up organizational culture, loves her clients, and expects business results. In a nutshell, she is the fork in the road where culture and strategy meet.
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