It’s that time of year: toasts, roasts, floats, and bloat.
And truly, what better time than the holidays amongst family (his/hers/yours/theirs), friends, coworkers, and direct reports to accentuate (or exacerbate!) what we actually need to work on (and our teams are begging us to do better?)
Okay. Maybe I’m the one that’s begging.
As I primarily coach executives, I’m often left wondering, especially this time of year (read: ThanksGIVING), why most of us (if not all) are so much better at dishing out criticism than doling out acknowledgement. It’s such an oddity to me. Because, in truth, how many of US actually prefer a critique over a clap?
But, let me ask you something else. What if gratitude is like gravy on a dry turkey?
Now, if you’re a boss, you may be thinking, “I think I’m pretty good with acknowledgement, actually!” And, you may very well be. However, I’m guessing that a little more might still be needed.
Why do I think that you might be bit paltry (poultry?) with your praises?
Because I’ve asked your people. You see, when HG is brought into a company to help source change and cause unpredictable results, we interview leadership and employees to find out what is working in your company and what needs work. Do you want to hear some of the most common complaints we hear about a company’s higher ups?
Have a seat. It’s not that pretty, but it’s pretty darn spot on.
• I don’t get any feedback from him/her. I wonder how I am doing
• S/he is rarely available
• S/he has favorites
• S/he wants me to read his/her mind
• S/he doesn’t appreciate all I do
• S/he is emotionally unavailable, doesn’t let people in
• My boss needs better listening skills (in meetings, s/he is on his/her cell texting or reading emails)
• S/he has unrealistic expectations
Do you hear a theme?
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What senior management doesn’t realize is how far-reaching and high-impact it can be for employees to hear shout outs, appreciation, and recognition. People want to continue working for someone who appreciates the work they do. More often than not, bosses think their job is to critique and, in fact, they’re pretty good at it. But, for a direct report, I promise, if the critiques are not coupled with equal, periodic, honest claps, your voice will start to sound a lot like the school teacher from the Peanuts, no matter what you’re trying to say.
How has this played out for me in my own career?
Although there is nothing wah wah wah, quiet, or boring about my own CEO, when it comes to accolades, he’s a man of few words.
One word to be exact.
I remember one time I shared with him how proud I was of my work with a particular executive. You know what he said? “Yay.”
Yep. That’s it. And although it could have been worse (a nod!?), clearly, what I wanted and what I got were worlds apart. Whatever did I do? Did I sit back and a) hope he remembers he forgot to acknowledge me or b) add more evidence to my figurative file on him, proving myself screwed and him Scrooge-like when it comes to acknowledgement?
Answer: c/see (below).
Instead, I did what I am hereby charging you with doing: I helped a higher-up be his higher self. Lord knows, last thing my Israeli-born CEO ever wants to do is fail at anything––let alone, fail me.
So, I reminded him. I told him (as nicely as I wanted him, in turn, to be with me) that I needed a little (fine … a lot) more praise. In other words, I assumed he wanted to win with me. And guess what? He not only listened, he gave me several sentences of tear-worthy praise that I could pocket, or better yet, put in my new pocket folder on him.
How about you?
If you are the boss in this scenario, what could it really hurt this season to step it up a bit and acknowledge one person in your life a day? Yes, one a day! What?!! Could they really get too proud of themselves? Would they really stop working because you think appreciating a job well done, would have them, uh, officially done, forever. And if you’re the employee that has a list on their boss and is just out to prove their suckage, try helping them. I promise, it will help you, too.
Truth is. This holiday, you have to decide what meal you want to serve up: one that’s cold and dry or one that’s warm with extra gravy.