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10 Ways to Show Your Team They Are Appreciated and Important
Did you know that about one-third of human life is spent working? With so much of our time spent at work, employee satisfaction is a critical top priority for managers.
With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, and with preventative measures like social isolation, shelter-in-place orders, and telecommuting, employee engagement is more important than ever.
In fact, a study from Gallup found that highly engaged teams result in 21% greater profitability for the organization, and teams that score in the top 20% of engagement also saw marked decreases in absenteeism and turnover.
It is vital that organizations preserve their talent and maintain leadership pipelines as we all rise to the challenge of facing the coronavirus head on—and employee engagement is key to this.
As a manager who deeply values my team and team dynamic, the last thing I want to happen is to have an employee leave the organization because they do not feel appreciated.
Let’s be honest: Management isn’t easy, and I personally strive to improve my own leadership abilities every single day. Managing your team should always be the number-one priority, but with daily demands from clients, your manager, executive team, and other colleagues (now even more intense due to a public health and economic crisis!) focusing on managing your team and showing your appreciation can get pushed to the back burner. We can’t solely focus on the work each member of our team does and forget to give them the acknowledgment and praise they deserve.
It’s easy to get lost in the vortex of tasks on your to–do list, but it is vital for managers to put employee appreciation to the top of their list of priorities.
Here are ten ways you can help your employees feel valued and appreciated:
1. The first step starts with you.
If you want to make sure your team feels appreciated, you first must look inward. Are you bringing your best self to work each day? Are you inspiring those you lead? Now, in a time of uncertainty and crisis, are you doubling down on your commitment to leading purposefully?
Linkage defines an inspiring leader as someone who “provides hope and inspiration for the future and directs energy toward a bold vision.” Inspirational leaders also need to be able to express ideas and direction using key messages, emotions, symbols and stories to truly captivate and motivate their team.
They also need to pave a path to a successful future by setting challenging, aspirational, meaningful, and rewarding goals. Why is this important? Your employees must feel that their manager has purpose and vision for themselves. When they do, others are encouraged to follow.
You need to be an authentic leader; consider who you are and what you believe, and act in accordance with those values. When employees feel this commitment from you, they respect you and not only want to work for you, they want to work with you. It’s your job to bring out the best in people and teams, and to stimulate a strong commitment to collective efforts through recognition of individual contributions. That starts with you.
2. Start each 1:1 meeting with a personal check-in.
Asking about your employees’ personal lives goes a long way when it comes to employee satisfaction. You don’t have to dig deep into the details to show your employees that you care about them as a human first.
Health and well-being are business priorities, and you should vocalize this to your team so they are not afraid to come to you for accommodations if something in their life may be preventing them from being at their best at work. Never make assumptions about behavior. Instead, ask the right questions so you are always on the same page with your employees. Earlier in my career, I was told I could not be out of the office for medical reasons, because others were already on PTO. My manager didn’t listen to my concerns about my health and didn’t try to accommodate me, even as I contributed at the highest levels. You can guess that I didn’t stay working for that supervisor much longer.
3. Be flexible with schedules.
Inflexible and rigid schedules are a thing of the past, especially now that organizations are responding to a public health emergency by empowering employees to work remotely. Here’s the key: If your employees are performing, don’t micromanage their time or schedule. Trust them to do the right thing and believe that they have positive intent, within the understanding that flexibility is a privilege. Increased flexibility boosts work–life balance, which makes for happier (and healthier!) employees. Guess what? It’s easier to retain those employees.
For me, remote work has been a game changer in my career. Working from home, which I do most weeks, allows me the flexibility to jump into my other passions, like health and fitness, as soon as the day ends—instead of sitting in Boston traffic for an hour!
4. Set up meetings to focus solely on your employees’ development areas, not just their job tasks.
Employees want to know they are progressing throughout the year, not just at their annual review. Providing continuous feedback in the moment has been one of my biggest learnings as a manager. It is so important to open a communication and feedback loop. In fact, the only regret I have ever experienced about communication has been the times I didn’t have a hard conversation early enough.
Having tough conversations is my least favorite part of being a manager, but employees always thank me for letting them know what areas they can work on, and I have seen positive changes when it comes to self-awareness and personal improvement after having these discussions. I look to my own manager for the same type of feedback and have grown tremendously over the past few years from the insights she shared with me. Feedback truly is the best gift!
5. Find out how individuals want to be recognized and praised.
Don’t assume everyone wants a shout-out at your next all-company meeting. Some employees may appreciate the recognition, while others may shrink into their seats with embarrassment. It’s important to ask each employee how they would like to be recognized when they do great work, and then follow through! Recognition should not be one-size-fits-all, and employees will be much more engaged when they are getting recognized in a way that suits their personality.
6. Celebrate the small and big wins.
I never need an excuse to celebrate with my team. Birthdays and holidays are a perfect way to celebrate your employees with small tokens of appreciation. A $10 gift card (or even dressing up together as a team on Halloween!) keeps the day–to–day fun and can help distract from stressors. With employees working from home due to the coronavirus and experiencing the stress of change and transition, having fun while working is even more important. Send memes to keep emails light and fun or join your team for a virtual lunch break. My team thrives on “work hard, play hard,” and these little moments of fun is what gets us up in the morning.
7. Focus on the vision, mission and values of your organization as a team.
During times of uncertainty, nothing is more important than staying connected to the vision, mission and values of your organization. While I normally recommend getting out of the office for an off-site work retreat, there’s no reason you can’t continue this work virtually during this time of uncertainty. Schedule a meeting and have each member of your team share their highlights and learnings for the week and ask them to tie their contributions back to the big picture. Ask them to share what they want to let go of—those practices, meetings, concepts or obligations that just aren’t relevant to the team or organization anymore. When you do this, cohesiveness of the team will strengthen.
This is also an opportunity for you to compliment team members on their strongest contributions and allow others to follow suit. This will leave each employee feeling appreciated and engaged.
8. Ask for their opinion and mean it.
Remember that just because you’re the manager, you don’t have to know everything. Leveraging your team’s talents and giving them their chance to shine and be the “expert” reflects positively on you. I love hearing from others in the organization about how amazing my team is. What manager wouldn’t want to hear that?
The newest member of our team just won a culture award after being at the organization less than six months, and that makes me beyond proud. As a manager, I am honored by their success, and I learn from them every day. If your team is excelling, then you will too.
9. Trust your team.
Employees want to do their best work. Feeling that their manager fully trusts them to come up with creative solutions on their own builds confidence and helps them grow. Give your employees the direction of the “why” but let them determine the “how.” You can always guide them in another direction if their solution is not ideal, but giving them a chance to showcase their own ideas is extremely valuable.
Innovation comes from all levels of the organization. Empowering your employees to develop their own solutions could unlock entirely new perspectives. Innovation and bringing different mindsets to the table is what helps a business thrive.
10. Receive feedback on your management style.
Every manager should receive feedback from those they manage. Giving your team the ability to provide vital feedback on your performance can be an extremely valuable learning tool to you as a manager. Providing feedback makes employees feel empowered and heard. The relationship between you and your employees will shift positively when they feel you are listening to them and when they see that you are using their feedback to grow as a leader. Soliciting this time of feedback can be a challenge, which is why our 360° Purposeful Leadership Assessment is a great tool for managers to use to gain their honest feedback. Learn what your strengths are, and which areas you can improve on. Remember: Growth mindset comes from all angles.
THE BIG TAKEAWAY
Helping others realize their full potential is my purpose in life, and being a people manager is a gift. As we all rise to the challenge of leading through the coronavirus crisis, take the time to show your team that you care about each one of them as individuals, and that you want them to grow and thrive in their careers.
By implementing the tips above, you will greatly improve the longevity of employees on your team, and even increase profitability for your company. Making sure employees feel engaged allows them to show up every day with passion, purpose, presence and energy—which is ultimately what we all want, right?
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