I’ve been working with several leadership clients in recent weeks and what’s been interesting is that, despite coming from different sectors, they’re all grappling with similar issues. The one that has jumped out for all of them is feeling unappreciated by their teams.
These are not bad managers. Far from it, when I’ve spoken to members of their teams. These are managers and leaders who go all out, often behind the scenes, protecting and promoting their team.
Before jumping to the solutions, here are some the questions I’ve asked those leaders:
- How have you shown your team you appreciate them? As unique individuals? As the collective whole?
- What do you mean by ‘appreciation’?
- If your team showed their appreciation, give me some examples of what this would look like?
- To what extent are you leading by example in terms of showing appreciation?
- To what extent are you behaving in a way that makes it easy for the team to appreciate you?
Whilst there are some of you who might think, “get over it”, “toughen up” and “develop a thicker skin”. I’m more inclined to recognise that managers are human too and therefore, have motivations and needs just like the rest of their team.
Regardless of status, when someone feels unappreciated then it’s unlikely to bring out the best in them.
When we’ve had a bit of a dig around what’s going on, the solutions then seem pretty obvious. Here are four simple ideas that these leaders are now using (and which you might want to, as well):
It might, just might, be that you’re not behaving in a way that your team appreciates. For example, are you never happy with anything less than excellence? Want your team to be the best of the best?
But how is that manifesting itself? For example, are you being a micromanager? Asking to see every little thing that your team does?
The point is, you are probably coming from a good place – i.e. you want excellence for your customers. It’s how you go about this is what makes the difference.
It starts with you doing an audit of your leadership behaviour. Something like 360 degree feedback can be helpful. In parallel, map out the things that are important to you to be recognised for by your team.
Then marry the two together. Where are the gaps? What strengths can you leverage and make more of? What do you need to work on and do differently? Are there specific behaviours out of kilter with how you want to be seen?
Have some form of recognition process
I’m not talking about any fancy, glitzy formal awards scheme your organisation might have. I’m talking about you doing your own thing, in your own team.
A number of the leaders said they took the time to recognise people. When I asked if this was consistent and a mix of formal and informal, they realised there was a gap.
Informal recognition is great. Taking the time to stop by someone’s desk and saying “well done” and “thank you”. This is a hugely important part of your repertoire. You’re also setting an example and paving the way for team members to show appreciation for each other.
Formal recognition needs to sit alongside this. Why not implement your own monthly scheme? You don’t have to wait for the corporate machine. You could have a ‘Special recognition’ where team members and managers can nominate who has really stood out for them and why they’ve appreciated that person. This can be team members recognising each other, their managers; and managers recognising each other and their team members. You make the rules.
Consistency is key. If you say you’re going to have weekly or monthly recognition then you’d better stick to it.
Get people to be specific in their praise and recognition of others. That starts with you. Why did the person stand out for you? What was it they did? Again, you’re setting the example of how to show appreciation. You should find, over time, that people start noticing and voicing what you do well too.
Regular communication is vital
How can your team know all that you’re doing on their behalf if you don’t tell them? Or you only tell some but not others?
One leader I’ve been working with has come up with the great idea of doing a weekly bulletin (along the lines of Tim Ferris’ ‘Five bullet Friday’ – for those of you who subscribe to his newsletter). Short and sharp, it’s an opportunity for you to share what’s important and front of mind.
Want your team to show appreciation for you going the extra mile on their behalf? They can only do this if they know what’s going on.
Get people to share, and that includes you
As well as the weekly bulletin, why not set up some kind of system where people share the thing they are proudest of that week or that month. And yes, that includes you. I’ve seen tools like Yammer used really well for this, with one organisational leader setting up a private group for his staff where they can do exactly this.
The beauty of a tool like Yammer (or its equivalent) is that it allows a conversation to take place. You can drop in and out, giving people a virtual ‘high five’ and they can do the same to you.
What are the things you’ve done to ensure people feel appreciated (including you)? Tried out the tips above? Let me know how it goes, by posting in the comments section below.