Now’s the time to be jolly and generous with our words.
“You’re great!” “Happy you’re on the team!” “Good work this year” Waiting until you hand someone their bonus check (you are giving one, right?) or slur some kind word at the Holiday Party, is not going to cut it. It’s empty and insincere. It won’t endear me to be vested in you or your goals. That said, if you choose to follow a few simple truths and a couple of rules, the organization and you the leader, will reap rewards beyond those you are sharing.
Let’s begin with the premise that things are always changing.
If you don’t believe it – check the mirror. Therefore, let’s make it work in your favor. Why not ride the wave and allow for change to happen. Creativity is change. Next, your employees, when given the opportunity, want to create and innovate for you. And, creative people need recognition in order to know that they are being creative. Oh, you may take offense and say, I’m being creative for myself. Yes, and that’s just one component of the creative process. Even the stay-at-home dad who paints the garage wants to be recognized for its beauty and transformation. Creative people also know that they need to create in order to get that recognition.
Therefore, if you follow an easy formula, you and the recipient will both be rewarded by your words and action “Say it when you see it!” AND “Be specific!”
I learned these two applications years ago and it has changed my relationships with my clients, teams, colleagues, and family. “Your idea on the Midas project was a great platform for us to build on.” “The client loved your design and sees it as something that can grow.” “What you said to that frustrated customer was creative and sincere, they felt heard and it diffused the situation.” You get the picture. If you wait for the end of the month or worse, year, it will fall flat and be fairly meaningless. And usually, you the giver probably won’t even remember all the creative gems that went unnoticed. You must recognize the details.
If you need to have some relevance to your recognition: you reward behavior and creativity you want to see more of. By you being specific and saying it when you see it, you are reinforcing something that works and that can grow. Parents do it all the time with children and as much I find disdain in this analogy, most of our organizations are built on the parent/children paradigm. I the employee work to make you happy and you reward me. You want me to want your approval and I work to get it. But this is beyond approval. Ask yourself, when was the last time you sincerely told someone you appreciated the specifics of their creative efforts in a timely manner?
Here are a few blocks you may have to giving recognition. I’ve been here. Be honest with yourself and see if any of them resonate with you. Awareness can cause change.
1) People are just doing their jobs. Of course they are AND they are not robots. They have emotions and little feel-good hormones, endorphins that actually go up when positive recognition is given.
2) I haven’t done it in the past. So? Try it for a couple of weeks and see if everyone’s endorphins don’t go up, including yours.
3) It means more when I save it for the really big accomplishments. There’s no big deal if you save for the successes? Why not reward the risks taken? Creativity starts with a willingness to make mistakes and look silly.
4) All their other work has been average. Why now? You’ll get more of what you want. With your coaching, behaviors can change when one is being rewarded for the positive change.
5) Don’t have the time. Please, find it.
I want you to have an environment where creativity and innovation flourish. By acknowledging creative behavior and work, you are establishing what you want more while developing more engaged employees. So, as you’re playing Santa this year and then contemplating what you can do next year to be a more effective and admired leader, cultivate creativity by creating your own new muscle and begin spreading good cheer. The creative gods will smile upon you and your teams.