Notice and Acknowledge Good Work

While no one brings their A Game to work every day, most of us show up for our jobs ready to work hard and wanting to make a difference.

imagesMost of the time we are running hard trying to deliver or exceed expected results, solve real and pressing problems, all the while scanning the horizon for new incoming challenges.  Even when there is a moment to pause and talk about how things are going, the conversation often gets pulled in the direction of problems that need to be overcome and adjustments we need to make.  In the midst of our catching up and pressing forward, we may wonder if anyone notices the commitment, good energy and effort that we’re bringing to our work.

Here’s the thing, though.  When I talk to leaders I often hear them speak with great awareness and appreciation for the commitment and work of their team.  We’re noticing the good work around us but it is also true that often enough we don’t take time to let folks know that we see and appreciate all that they are doing.

An important part of tending to the morale of the teams we are part of is doing this very thing – noticing and acknowledging the good work of those around us.  It’s always important, and it’s especially important during times of prolonged stress and anxiety.  One of the things that can help us to manage our anxiety and stress is feeling seen and valued by others around us.  The resulting sense of positive connection helps to anchor and steady us in times of uncertainty.

And doing this doesn’t take long.  Try this simple exercise:

  1. Take a blank piece of paper and draw a circle about the size of a quarter in the center of the page.  In that circle write the initials of someone whose contribution you are especially appreciating these days.
  2. Above the circle, jot down two or three specific things that they have done recently that you appreciate.  The more specific the better.
  3. And below the circle, write a sentence about the difference their doing these things made (why you value what they did).

This is a 3 or 4 minute investment that can yield long-term payoff.  It prepares you for a quick conversation (or jotting a short note) of acknowledgement.  Do that now (or after you finish reading this post) before the notion passes.

Real acknowledgement is specific in this way.  Watching those who do this well, it’s clear that they are paying real attention to the efforts and contributions of those around them.  It lets those they observe know that their efforts are seen and valued and reminds them of the difference they’re making.  Even when offered sincerely, our more generic appreciation (“Thanks for your good work today”) falls short of delivering the same sense of positive connection and reinforcement.

Of course this kind of acknowledgement – taking time to notice and communicate our awareness and appreciation – is not solely the work of supervisors and managers.  Ideally this kind of awareness and acknowledgement flows in all directions – at work and at home.

When it comes to supporting the good work and comment of others around us – and helping them to feel seen and connected – noticing their efforts and taking time to acknowledge their contributions goes a long way.

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