March 16, 2012
For leaders of all types, here's an assignment: Hand out some praise today.
Think about how long a weekend can be for someone who feels under appreciated or over worked. It's emotional stew time, and you aren't around to defend yourself. When Monday rolls around, your team members are not refreshed. They are back to the grind.
When Tom Ward was turning around Barton Protective Services in Atlanta, he employed a tactic of catching someone doing something right, then on Friday, reporting it to the company. He realized something important: That which gets rewarded gets repeated.
Take a look around you today and make an effort to notice good work. Effort, outcome, thoughtfulness, tenacity .... all attributes to admire. Start with your team, fan out to adjacent groups and staff and even consider partners or customers. When you lock in on your gratitude recipeient, remember:
1. Be Specific! General praise doesn't ring true. Talk about the action, the result and how you feel about it. This will also ensure you are giving praise that others can respect.
2. Be Generous. If it's a team effort, take the time to identify all the players. Don't let the most outspoken or popular get all the cred.
3. Be Visual. A cryptic atta-boy email isn't as impactful as something you can see. We live in a Pinterest world of the picture, not the word.
A culture of appreciation is a sustainable one. Friday is a platform, an end of the grind week opportunity, for you to help create one by your example. When you take this lead, you are fulfilling what Napoleon Bonaparte identified as the leader's role: To define reality, then give hope.