Feeling Appreciated

Many of you know I coach high school cross country and track. I have worked hard to create a welcoming culture that values every runner no matter their age, gender or ability. One key aspect of that is acknowledging accomplishments in front of everyone. After each race, we celebrate extraordinary performances. In cross country since everyone is at the same meet and runs basically the same event, the coaches begin by pointing out one or two athletes who did something outstanding and then we open it up to the runners to talk about the cool things they saw their teammates do.

In track, it’s usually just me doing the talking because I’m the one who sees the entirety of the meet and well, being high schoolers, they typically don’t because they’re busy prepping to race/throw/jump, competing in their events or as in the case of a meet last week, dancing on the field to keep warm. No matter whether it’s a JV freshman breaking the 8:00 minute mark in the mile or a Varsity senior dropping a second off an already speedy 800M, we cheer for it all. The result is a much more connected team where everyone knows they are valued and honored.

So how does cultivating that attitude of respect carry over into the work world? Savvy business leaders know that when the members of their team are valued, they produce excellent work and the business is successful. While I can’t imagine a business leader assembling their crew in a big circle every week to highlight exceptional performance, there are ways to appreciate accomplishments that can make a difference for the team and the business.

Here are a few.

  • Recognition of a job well-done isn’t a “one-and-done” proposition. Instill a sense of gratitude and appreciation into your workplace every day. Acknowledging good work just once likely will not be enough to change culture.
  • Know that appreciation comes in variety of forms. It doesn’t always have to be some giant celebration. I had a boss who would thank me for doing an assignment well via email and the “thank you” was always followed by an exclamation point (or two). I don’t know why, but I always felt appreciated by that.
  • Some people value extra time off. Some like a gift card. Some like recognition in front of others. Some like a personal hand-written note. Consider conducting an internal survey to better understand who on your team likes what in the way of recognition. It’s a simple step that can pay you back in spades over time.
  • In that same vein, allow for and encourage open communications. Employees feel valued when they have opportunities to contribute by sharing ideas, suggestions and even complaints.
  • Offer opportunities for employees to learn and grow. Supporting professional development is key to helping employees understand their own value to the team.

The bottom line is employees want to feel that they are respected and have value. When they do, they are willing to go that extra mile and stick around for the long-term.