Every year in December, I enjoy the many social media posts of appreciation and recognition from leaders to their team members. Business owners, C-suite leaders, directors, managers, and supervisors post pictures and praise for the hard work, the dedication, and the exceptional results their teams achieved over the course of the year.
Posts of praise in December are always followed by goal setting posts in January. This got me thinking. Why not set a goal to make appreciation and recognition a yearlong practice rather than saving it all for December?
To that end, I hope you’ll enjoy—and make use of– the following 23 ideas to make recognition and appreciation a consistent practice in 2023.
(Side note: If you’re wondering how recognition and appreciation differ, this article from Insights for Professionals describes it like this: “The simplest way to distinguish between these two concepts is by viewing recognition as a reflection of what people do and appreciation as a celebration of who they are.”)
- Make ‘Celebrations’ the first item on your meeting agendas. Share your own, and invite team members to share theirs. Celebrations can be anything from signing the million-dollar client to being grateful for the new coffee flavor in the break room.
- Use first names when showing appreciation. Dale Carnegie said it best: “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
- Invest in your team members. Help them learn, grow, and expand through online courses, webinars, conferences, retreats, tuition reimbursements. (Ready to get this started? I can help!)
- Be present. Leave your phone in your office when going to the break room to refill your drink or eat lunch. Engage in conversation with those in the room. It’s okay to talk about work, but don’t forget: there’s an abundance of other topics you could discuss, too.
- Be present, part 2. When communicating virtually, turn your notifications off. Close out of your email. Make eye contact with others on the video call. Turn your monitor off when on a phone call. Be 100% engaged in the discussion.
- Commend a team member’s idea when meeting with the whole team. “Many thanks to Tina. We’re moving forward with her idea to make new client onboarding run more smoothly.”
- Ask team members individually how they like to be recognized—and then follow through with their preferences. Some thrive on public recognition while others far prefer a simple, quiet thank you in a one-on-one setting.
- When someone praises a team member outside of his/her presence, pass on the accolades to said team member. Often times, being the messenger is as rewarding as being the recipient of the message itself.
- Incorporate regular one-one-one coffee chats (or lunch or short walks or whatever floats your boat) into your schedule. Get to know your team members not just for their professional skills and talents but also for the unique individuals they are.
- Piggybacking on #9, acknowledge personal events in your team members’ lives. Whether it be a birthday, anniversary, birth, death, or any other event to commemorate, show that you care with some type of acknowledgement.
- Showcase your team members’ talents in a way that works for both them and your organization. This could be a write-up in the company newsletter, an announcement at a town hall meeting, or a Meet the Team section on the company website. Ensure the recognition works for the team member, and then shout your appreciation for their talents from the ‘rooftop’!
- Recognize your team members’ efforts and accomplishments with the gift of time: an extended lunch hour, a late start time, the afternoon off with pay.
- Go one step further than #12 and offer your team ongoing flexibility. Flexibility to come to work after the kids are on the bus. Flexibility to squeeze in a quick dental checkup over a long lunch break. Flexibility to begin work at 6:00 am in order to meet the kids at the bus at the end of the school day. Flexibility to fulfill all work responsibilities while also valuing other parts of their lives.
- Trust your team enough to know they won’t take advantage of #13.
- Include your team members in strategic planning, decision making, and problem solving. Invite them to be part of the process, and incorporate their ideas.
- Write a personal thank-you note to a team member. Then mail it to his/her home. This allows the team member to receive extra accolades when the spouse and kids offer praise, too.
- Create a Happy Wall. This idea comes from Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work by Piyush Patel. Every morning the team jots down on Post-It notes three things that made them happy in the past 24 hours—two work-related items and one personal item. Post-Its then go on the Happy Wall that’s in a prominent place in the office, a place people walk by frequently. And as they walk by, they soak in the ‘happies’.
- Encourage multi-directional feedback. As a leader, you offer constructive feedback to your team members regularly. Be just as willing to receive feedback that’s offered respectfully and professionally.
- Talk about mental health. Not in a hushed tone. Not always behind closed doors. Make mental health a topic that’s as common to discuss as project details and deadlines.
- Honor mental health needs. Bring compassion, empathy, and understanding into your conversations with team members. Be the person they trust to help them, to guide them, to see them through solutions they don’t yet see themselves.
- Be specific with praise. Rather than, “I appreciate your work on this,” try, “I appreciate the way you kept this project as your top priority. I realize it must have been difficult as there were other ‘fires’ to put out. I saw how you skillfully invited David to take on Client B’s issues, and then you went a step further and utilized Susan’s expertise to help you stay on track. Thank you for staying calm and present. Thank you for never once falling into the premise that other things should take precedence over this. I appreciate your tenacity, and I appreciate you.”
- Value the relationship you have with each of your team members. Each of them is unique and important to the team as a whole. Strive to strengthen and appreciate each and every relationship.
- Set a minimum baseline of implementing at least five ideas from this list of 23 in ’23.
And as a possible #24, make use of social media to showcase your team’s talents and accomplishments. Just don’t save it all up for December of 2023, okay?
May your 2023 be filled with blessings, celebrations, recognition, and appreciation!