Brigette Hyacinth, author of The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, rightly claims that, “People don’t leave bad jobs. They leave bad bosses. More often than not, it’s not because they are underpaid, rather it’s because they feel undervalued and unappreciated.”
The best way to ensure employees feel appreciated? Positive reinforcement. “Instead of being quick to criticize, be quick to point out the great things you see your employees doing,” says Hyacinth. This will reinforce the positive actions and encourage the employee to show appreciation toward others as well.
In my book, If Not You, Who?, I review the three pillars of effective recognition:
- Be Sincere. The most important part of saying “thank you” is being sincere. People are smart. If you thank them out of obligation, they’ll know. Speak confidently, showing that you mean every word you say, and be honest. Open up and speak from your heart.
- Be Timely. It’s more effective to dole out the praise as close to the timing of the event as possible vs. waiting days or weeks to thank the employee. When an employee is thanked in real-time, it re-enforces the positive behaviors that the employee exhibited.
- Be Specific. When recognizing an employee, content is king. The recognition must be specific to the person and highlight his/her role in the accomplishment. When people are praised for something specific, it increases the likelihood that they will repeat the positive behavior.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.” Be it written or spoken, the most valuable form of recognition is to be acknowledged and appreciated for a job well done. Recognition is one of the greatest human needs. When it occurs on a regular basis, it will help create an environment that people love, where they are inspired to soar, so your organization can meet or exceed its goals. And remember, if you automate recognition using an online tool, you will absolutely fast-track your journey, as it will be easy for people to recognize one another immediately and every day.
WHAT CAN I DO? Short term? Buy a box of thank you cards. Make that 50 boxes. As the last thing you do each workday, write and distribute notes that are sincere, timely and specific. In fact, you can set up a standing meeting notice for yourself at 5 p.m. each day to accomplish this critical task. Longer term? Encourage your organization to automate recognition. Employee engagement is not rocket science. Meet people’s needs at work and they will give you the shirts off their backs.