I vividly remember as a child my Father thanking his apprentices at the end of every day for coming to work. I secretly laughed to myself thinking “Silly Dad, thanking them for coming to work – he is paying them to come in!”
Prior to entering the world of recruitment, I had worked in some thankless roles for businesses where everybody had a dollar sign above their head and managers seldom showed recognition for my efforts. I felt that there was an expectation from employers that I should be the only one thankful.
During this time, I was a volunteer ambulance officer and Coastguard member and gratitude came naturally as a result from helping those in need and showing empathy. This got me to thinking how powerful showing gratitude to people in your everyday life could pay off but especially working life where a lot of us spend more awake hours than with our loved ones.
I set about making some changes and noting any differences and am confident to say that by building rapport and displaying gratitude, I have been witness to many ‘warm fuzzies’ and over the years have watched members of my team self-develop and grow in both their professional and personal lives.
Here are some of the basic and creative ways my team and I play and suggestions to try:
Listen attentively when being spoken to, turn away from your keyboard or any other distractions and be engaged in the conversation. You do not always have to speak or fix a problem but listen reflectively. This will give your team confidence to share information with you knowing that you are present in time. Over time you will find that your team will come to you with suggested solutions to concerns as they know you will provide them with space to be independent and make choices in a safe environment. The benefit of face-to-face communication is that you can see people’s reactions and responses, it’s a chance to show empathy and enthusiasm that you can’t do on a phone call or email.
Don’t be a control freak or micro-manager. Let your team know that you can trust and depend on them and they will have a target to work towards.
Let everyone know their place in the team and how vital that role is to the overall success of the business so they have a better understanding of where they fit into the big picture.
Set a rule at team meetings and brain storming suggestions that no idea is silly and encourage the team to think outside the square and be innovative and creative. Have fun. Adopt an open-door policy where your team feel their voice matters.
Lead by example
Don’t expect your team to work ridiculous hours if you are not walking the walk with them. By being present together you can identify more effective ways of doing things and are combining efforts to get the task done.
Create win/win steps by partnering, defining conflict in terms of basic goals and needs, brainstorming solutions, checking and choosing the best solution and plan to take action – then evaluate.
There will be times where you agree to disagree but don’t be quick to place things in the “too hard bin”
Plan team dates, shared lunches, do one-on-ones in the park or whilst going for a walk in the sun, have turns planning social outings, dress up silly for e.g.: St Patricks, participate in community fundraisers, take selfies, reward success, celebrate personal achievements of your team e.g.: first fun-run, birthdays, engagements, weddings and births. Happy workers are productive workers. Take advantage of wall space writing motivational quotes on white-boards and recognizing wins. In my branch, we love our ticks so we write all our vacancies up on a big whiteboard and give them a big red tick once placed, such a small thing but so satisfying – also makes you want to go out and find the next thing to tick off!
Make a mental note to praise your team much more than negative feedback, this will make them feel more positive about what they do. Everyone loves recognition and no one wants to feel like a cog in the wheel. If there is room for improvement, that is OK too – just be honest about what still needs to be done. Just remember that more harm is done with criticism than by praise.
We all have lives outside of work. Show genuine interest in your employees and engage them to talk about themselves while showing interest in what they have to say. Build rapport, the more you get to know each team member uniquely, the better your relationship and understanding of them will be.
Take time to get to know your people.
Everyone is different but if you align your goals, the work that you are doing and what you need to get it done, you will be amazed at what you can get accomplished. My challenge to all readers is to show you care by making the effort.
Last of all, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. You will get great insight into how to motivate your employees if you know how they feel about their job and workplace.
Sandi Oliver is the Branch Manager of Adecco Personnel LTD, Northland.