If you tallied up the number of current websites, books, articles, webinars and conferences out there that focus on developing your leadership skills, it’s going to be a huge number. I bet it is somewhere north of the amount of U.S. adults who are video gamers (164 million), but less than the entire population of our planet (nearly 7.8 billion by the end of 2020). Hey, math isn’t my forte, so don’t ask me to track the specifics down. The point is that there’s a tremendous amount of great content and ideas you can access about becoming a better leader. But if you don’t want to sift through it, here’s one practice you can do immediately to improve your leadership skills – start acknowledging others.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and one of the world’s most innovative leaders, said, “I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”
Think you have to spend a lot of money or create a formal program to acknowledge the people on your team? While it’s great if you can do those things, a little recognition can go a long way. Plus, it’s not just a lovely thing to do if you can make time for it. Acknowledging and recognizing employees is essential in retaining good talent.
While employee engagement is increasing overall, Gallup reports that 66% of the American workforce is not engaged in their jobs. Employee satisfaction levels are strongly influenced by an individual’s relationship with their manager. According to TINYpulse, employees who give their managers a low rating are four times more likely to be interviewing for other jobs than their peers. That same source also reports that 21.5% of workers who don’t feel recognized for doing great work have interviewed for a job in the past three months vs. 12.4% who do feel recognized.
Acknowledging others also makes you a better leader. It motivates your team members and builds loyalty. Stronger results are generated. When you pay more attention to what people are saying and doing, and recognize their great work, it develops your emotional intelligence. You become better at identifying new opportunities for the team to excel and anticipate roadblocks along the way.
Here’s some great news. Actively practicing acknowledgement is easy, doesn’t cost a thing and you can get started right away. Some simple steps include:
1. Have everybody share a win for the week during staff meetings.
It doesn’t have to be an earthshattering development. Turning around an unhappy customer, landing a new account, saving money by switching vendors, or solving a technology glitch are all terrific accomplishments to share. This practice creates an atmosphere of group acknowledgement, building positivity and camaraderie by making recognition an on-going practice.
2. Understand what motivates your direct reports.
Sure, you may be responsible for a division of 3,000 people, but how many of them report directly to you? Three, five, ten people? Chances are good it is a manageable number so you can get to know each individual better. I recommend booking a one-on-one lunch with each direct report to learn more about what makes them tick. What motivates them, their goals and aspirations and more. Pay attention, because their story informs the way they work. And it lets you acknowledge the entire individual, not just as a senior accountant or a benefits specialist.
3. Partner with your communications department.
A corporate communications executive by trade, I can attest that my team is always looking for interesting employee wins, milestones and stories to highlight in our company’s internal communications vehicles. Be proactive in letting communications know about your team members and their accomplishments. You’ll make an employee’s day when they are featured in the company newsletter, podcast or Intranet site.
Is this striking a chord? Pick one of these steps to start over the next week and see how it unfolds. Before you know it, practicing more acknowledgement is going to help take your leadership development to the next level.