One of our deepest needs is to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, it is a skill too few leaders cultivate.
It comes at a cost. The number one driver of employee engagement is recognition and praise. Many studies, including one published in the Harvard Business Review in 2010 about Best Buy, find a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and profits.
The best leaders are always looking for opportunities to give praise. It is a powerful motivator that provides the fuel many people need to perform at their best. Even better, it is infectious. Catch people in the act of doing good, and most will pay it forward.
The most powerful acknowledgement focuses on behaviors, such as completing a work project on time, mentoring a co-worker, or going above and beyond to help a customer. When you acknowledge, you draw attention to something wonderful about a person.
Comments related to how someone looks or dresses has much less impact, and can be taken negatively by the receiver. When done appropriately, it strengthens relationships and builds trust. It can be verbal, or written, and is often most appreciated when done publicly (especially at work).
- Occurs after action (ideally immediately)
- Highlights good deeds
Recall a time when you received sincere acknowledgment, and notice how good it still makes you feel. Now, recall when you completed a project and there was no acknowledgment. Big difference – isn’t it? This is why behaviors that are regularly acknowledge generally increase over time.
Self-Acknowledgement Is Also Vital
Acknowledgement is definitely a two-way street. It can have an even greater impact when we turn it on ourselves. Silently, we are often guilty of calling ourselves names that would cause a fight if someone else said it to our face. Negative self-talk drains energy and pulls us further from our best qualities.
I work with many of my coaching clients to create self-awareness so they notice when they start a negative internal dialogue, and to substitute positive things they can tell themselves. In addition, giving yourself a verbal pat on the back can help avoid disappointment that follows when your contributions or accomplishments go unrecognized by others.
So, your challenge today and everyday is to catch someone in the act of doing good and acknowledge them. You will discover it makes everyone’s day!
Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting, LLC, and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and marcom consulting.