Acknowledgement is inexpensive, simple and doesn’t require too much strategy. It always has me wondering, why then aren’t we using simple acknowledgement of a good job more often–– whether someone has achieved anything major or not––as a tool to motivate our teams?!
Acknowledgement is such an effective tool for transformation within teams and companies, and it has the power to deliver breakthrough results almost instantly. It’s a scientific fact that gratitude and acknowledgement of another person’s efforts can dramatically change attitudes, releasing dopamine––the feel good chemical.
In terms of workplaces, the right acknowledgement at the right time can swing a workplace culture around and drive better individual performances and overall outcomes. In an individual, recognition for good work releases dopamine into the brain by a neurotransmitter, generating feelings of pride and pleasure. And when that dopamine hit is received it also cements the belief in that individual that more good behaviour will result in more acknowledgment and more dopamine. This sort of dopamine high is a good addiction––a great cycle for a workplace environment, and a great driver for productivity and great work.
But let me get this straight, it doesn’t mean we need to constantly blow smoke up our team’s arses. Constructive criticism also has a time and a place. But when weighing the two up, the strike rate of being critical isn’t nearly as on point as the power of acknowledgement ––which creates direct results 100% of the time.
To clarify, I’m talking about acknowledgement for good work, not reward for achievement. I feel we’ve fallen into an unbalanced culture of only praising or rewarding for extraordinary results, and reprimanding for poor results. But what we are forgetting is the median, the majority of workers who do their job adequately without any recognition of their performance––and these are the employees that are driving our business.
To work ‘adequately’ doesn’t require huge rewards and prizes, but it will benefit from acknowledgement. Just imagine someone who has been working consistently, getting their job done, without screwing up, but also without any recognition or acknowledgement of the effort they put into their role. It’s only a matter of time, without acknowledgement, before this employee becomes disengaged and slips into the “working poorly” category. This is not a great outcome for anyone involved.
A good leader will let people know when they’re doing a good job with heartfelt and authentic acknowledgement. A verbal or written acknowledgement can propel an average worker into an outstanding worker. That’s the power of acknowledgement.
And if a leader needed any more encouragement to regularly practice acknowledgement, how about knowing there are also levels of dopamine released in the brain when someone feels gratitude.
Delivering acknowledgement within your team should not just come “when it comes” it’s good to structure your culture around practicing acknowledgement in all areas. (It will do wonders for your personal life too!) If you need guidance, use the 4 Cs as a reference.
The 4Cs of Acknowledgement:
Become conscious of gratitude, as you feel it, whom you feel it for, and learn by responding straight away. If someone holds the lift for you and you are running late for a meeting so you don’t think of thanking them there and then, go back to that person after the meeting ad say, “I really appreciate you holding the door for me, I was already running behind, and you helped me make the meeting on time.”
Figure out the best way to reach the person you’re acknowledging. Consider the way that particular person or situation would respond best— anything from face-to-face, Skype, email, or even a public announcement!
It’s not easy to find the confidence to speak out in a way that doesn’t come naturally. Some people, though extremely grateful, find it so tough to tell someone how appreciative they are, for their own personal fears are interrupting. To access the power of acknowledgement you need to find the courage and just push on and do it. Trust me, you will feel so much better for it instantly!
This is pretty obvious. Now you have the technique, the tools and the purpose for acknowledgement, commit to make it a part of your leadership qualities ––and you’ll be committing yourself to some really great culture.
Written by HR Gurus Managing Partner, Jessy Warn.