As you work toward the end of your busy season, which is now in sight, make sure you’re doing the appropriate level of “internal marketing” by taking the time to acknowledge those in your firm who have helped you make it all happen.

Perhaps it is your firm administrator who has planned the firm schedule brilliantly and fed the crew regularly, your superior who spent time teaching you and reviewing your work, or the receptionist who fielded calls and made your clients feel welcome.  Each of these key people will benefit from your acknowledgement and gratitude – especially when pressure is at its peak.

When we teach firms and association members about employee motivation, we ask attendees to prioritize their professional motivators from the following list:

  1. Increased responsibility and challenge
  2. Compensation and benefits
  3. Flexibility and time off
  4. Camaraderie and fun
  5. Acknowledgment and respect
  6. Personal and professional development

While people place their value on these motivational values differently for a variety of personal reasons and individual factors, we have noticed that “acknowledgement and respect” almost universally appears in each person’s top three priorities.

Acknowledgement and respect includes acts that communicate your appreciation for another person’s efforts and those that show them courtesy and kindness at work.  This is one of the least expensive, yet impactful, motivators, and yet it is often discounted as too “touchy/feely” or delegated to office administrators or others with “more time” to consider and execute acts of thanks.

In fact, you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to stop and thank others, especially in the middle of busy season.”  However, think about how much time you’ll save in recruiting and replacement costs if you calendar a reminder at regular intervals (start with this week!) to thank someone on your team for something they’ve done lately.  People want to work where their efforts are appreciated!  Consider that you may also gain time because a more engaged work group will produce more.   And, when you treat your employees with respect and acknowledge their hard work, the word will get out into your community about the great culture of appreciation your firm offers.  This is free marketing!

To start consciously acknowledging the contributions of others – now and after the end of busy season - start with a few simple ideas:

  1. Encourage all in your firm to treat people, at all levels, with dignity and respect.  Discuss with your team, especially those who may engage in teasing, jabs, barbs, or sarcasm, the importance of keeping the tone of their comments well-meaning and sensitive of individual personalities.  Certain comments may act as “de-motivators” – particularly during times of increased stress.
  2. “Catch" your people doing something positive and thank them for it as soon as you can.  If someone often does something well and you haven’t thanked them for it lately, stop the next time they do it and express gratitude for this instance and all of the others, too, so they know that you are aware of their long-term efforts.
  3. Send emails of appreciation for a job well done or in honor of a team member’s birthday or anniversary with your firm, perhaps copying multiple team members to provide a “public” pat on the back to an individual or a team.  If you are in a position of authority, you would be surprised at how much these communications mean to others.
  4. Implement a “wow” note program where anyone in your firm can submit someone’s name and their accomplishment to management.  Then, firm leaders can choose one or two “wow” notes to read at department or firm-wide meetings.
  5. Provide constructive, honest, and private feedback about your team members’ areas for improvement and ways for them to develop as a professional.  You’ll show respect and commitment to the individual when you show your interest in helping them grow.  However, while you don’t want to put off important conversations indefinitely, be sensitive to the timing of these communications if they don’t impact a current project.  Even well-meaning longer range feedback can be hurtful during times when your team is giving extra already.

Consider mixing up how you express your appreciation as well.  For certain instances, stopping by someone’s cubicle or office to tell them what a great job they did on a project will make a big impact because of your extra effort to connect with them in person.  In other situations, a hand-written note of appreciation will differentiate you and show how much you value their contributions.  We have seen these cherished notes pinned to cubicles or taped to walls years after they were sent by a superior, colleague, or client.

When you acknowledge people for their contributions, be sure that your thanks are specific and sincere.  Generalizing, over-blowing, or acknowledging people when they don’t deserve it will feel artificial and can have a negative effect on morale.

Choose one idea and experiment with gratitude this week.  You’ll be amazed at how much more engaged and grateful those you acknowledge will be and how great you’ll feel in the process!

Please share with us by posting in the comments area specific thanks you offered a team member recently or gratitude shown to you that made a big impact on your motivation.  There’s never been a better time to say “thanks!”

Warm regards,

Krista Remer