First a quote; “The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles M Schwab
Good morning and happy Monday. I hope my morning missive finds you and yours both safe and healthy.
Over the years, I have made a few observations about organizational appreciation, praise and recognition and I’m curious if you’ve noticed anything similar in your experience.
Following are a couple of those observations.
It seems most organizations are pretty good about celebrating success and recognizing superior results when achieved. The company, or department, achieves superior results for the quarter or period… great! Let’s send out a memo, buy t-shirts, and throw a pizza party for the team. (Or whatever is the norm for that company.) Recognizing and rewarding people for good work is a hallmark of effective leadership. By all means, celebrate good results! Rewarded behavior is often repeated.
However, I have also observed that when results are disappointing, for whatever reason, very little recognition, of any kind, takes place in most organizations. Now, just to be clear, I am not suggesting we celebrate or reward poor performance. My observation is more about poor results that are caused by some outside force, like 9/11, the 2008 financial collapse, or COVID-19. I’m talking about situations where employees are putting forth herculean efforts, and because of circumstances beyond their control, results are significantly below expectations at best.
Often, people work their hardest, and put in the most time and effort, in times of crisis and tribulation. Results are often disappointing, through no fault of their own. Often in these situations, people are working exceptionally hard and putting forth massive efforts to make things better against overwhelming odds.
Think about a sports team trailing at halftime. Unless they get discouraged, or give up, players often exert more energy, and try harder, in losing efforts. Examples of this kind of effort exerted vs results obtained are everywhere, especially in our current set of circumstances.
How about real life, right now? How about sales professionals trying to track down potential customers who are more concerned about the health of their loved ones than buying a new product or service? Salespeople may need to make two or three times as many cold calls just to connect with a live person in real time. Unless you’re selling toilet paper or hand sanitizer, it is currently a pretty challenging sales environment.
How about the restaurants working with skeleton crews, trying to deliver hot and tasty food curbside from buildings that were designed for dining room seating only? They’re desperately scrambling for every single sale, just trying to keep the doors open and the business afloat.
How about virtual workers everywhere? Working from home is not necessarily easier, or less stressful, than working in traditional office settings. Moreover, many parents are simultaneously homeschooling their children, running a household and concerned about getting groceries and paying the rent, let alone remain safe and healthy.
There must be thousands of examples of people working harder, exerting more effort, experiencing increased levels of stress, all while producing less results. And sometimes, they’re putting forth these efforts at a time when leaders are distracted by monumental challenges of their own, including the organization’s very survival. This situation can leave everyone feeling starved for appreciation and encouragement just when they need it the most.
It is during these times, that traditional results-related recognitions systems fail our leadership teams and worse yet, front-line workers and associates. Herculean efforts deserve a paradigm shift when it comes to thanking workers everywhere, essential and non-essential alike. (By the way, as a person doing non-essential work from home, let’s avoid calling anyone “non-essential.” Every human being is important!)
There are times when rewarding effort is more important than typical benchmark results. Now might be that time in your organization.
Click here to read: Saying ‘Great Job’ isn’t Enough
How will you show your gratitude this week? In what ways can you say “thank you” in a more meaningful way? During this time of crisis, these are not easy questions to answer. I would welcome your ideas this week and would be happy to share with my readers.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
Separately, here are three things our team is doing to help make a positive difference in the lives of others during this difficult time:
- Sharing “good news stories” in an email chain to my friends and family in an effort to foster hope not fear.
- Offering a free webinar every Thursday evening at 5:58 PM MDT. This week’s webinar is entitled: “Making Sense of it All: Grief’s Final Phase”
- Raising money to buy food from struggling restaurants to feed to the hungry and homeless. With donations from people like you, our team was able to provide 200 homeless people an Easter lunch. I would be grateful for your support, of any kind, on these efforts.
- Thanked our postal service person, garbage truck driver or our grocery clerks.
- Called a nursing home and ask to visit with, or pray for, one of their residents.
- Put thank you signs in your front window or yard.
- Cut the grass or offer to get groceries for an elderly neighbor.
- Insert your ideas here and pass it on!
Everyone can do something, and everyone should try. Be your best self this coming week!
Be safe, be well, wash your hands and keep your distance.
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “One of life’s saddest realities is the failure to adequately appreciate those we love.”– Dr. Mardy
- “Of all the qualities of a gracious life, appreciation is the most essential.” — Alexandra Stoddard
- “The greatest humiliation in life is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, and then fail to get it.” – W. Howe
- “Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood or appreciated.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson