One of the strongest reasons why teams lose hope is because of the eerie silence of the leader. It’s not that team leaders aren’t talking. They are, a lot! Teams are certainly recruited and drawn to the vision expressed by the leader. They are motivated through thick and thin by the eloquent oratories of their leaders who paint the picture of a hopeful future. There is always the promise of a brighter tomorrow if teams will just hang in there. But while vision will get you started it wont take you all the way home. Those you lead need more than passionate words about the future.
I am convinced that over time what team members long for more than anything is to know how their personal contribution matters to the accomplishment of that grand vision. They want to know that their efforts will play an integral part towards seeing change. They long to understand where they tangibly fit in to the organizational mission. And they need to hear these words from the leader himself.
You want to know the best way to do that?
Express heart-felt gratitude for their efforts and sincerely validate their gifts and abilities.
Doing this simple act has the potential to encourage the very core of a person. All people have to give are their strong efforts and themselves. If you have a team, then it probably means that they have bought in to your vision and mission. But to sustain their long-term efforts and ownership you must elevate their understanding of how their contributions truly matter.
Here are some practical tips to get the job done.
These need to be personal, verbal words. This is not the time for a late night social media fly by to try to encourage your people. This is the time for real communication. Make the effort to personally go up and tell someone how grateful you are for what they have done or for who they are.
These need to be specific words. This is not the time for platitudes or words that could apply to anyone. They need to be thoughtful, carefully chosen words that communicate specifically to that person. Show them that you are paying attention. Tell them about the moment you noticed their hard work. Tell them about their unique ability that matched the moment.
These need to be timely words. It doesn’t count if you see great effort by one of your team members and you comment on it next week. Catch the moment. Let others hear you do it. Tell them in the moment. Capture the impact.
These need to be generous words. Don’t play favorites. Work hard at complimenting everyone on your team over time. Be a student of your team members so that you can spread the praise around.
What has been your experience in receiving this kind of verbal affirmation? What has been your experience in providing this kind of sincere affirmation?