National Employee Appreciation Day was created in 1995 and is observed in the U.S. on the first Friday of March. It’s a way of focusing the attention of employers in all industries on employee recognition. But rather than a single day of games, pizza and thank-you notes, we think the best way for managers to show appreciation is to be great leaders. – Editor.
With competition for top talent increasing, companies with the best reputations for people management will win.
What does it take to be a great people leader?
1. Show respect. Many leaders say their people are their greatest asset, but their actions don’t line up with their words. That inconsistency is never lost on employees. Showing respect means valuing each individual and discovering the skills and perspectives they bring. It means giving the benefit of the doubt, assuming the best and developing a relationship built on trust.
2. Have a plan and share it. As the ancient saying goes, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Do your people really know where they’re headed? Not just a general notion but a solid, specific plan for the future. Tell people about the opportunities the future holds. Paint a picture of what could be. Explain how barriers and problems can be overcome to achieve greatness. Always keep an inviting, encouraging goal in the forefront of people’s minds.
3. Involve people in the plan. There’s nothing so engaging as feeling that what you’re doing matters and makes an impact. Help people discover the link between what they do and the bottom line. Tell them how their performance helps the organization get where it needs to be.
4. Listen and act. Be a disciplined listener. True listening is a skill and it’s not easy. Put your own agenda and perspective aside and really listen to what employees are saying. If you haven’t listened in a while, you’ll be amazed by what you hear. Then, act on what people tell you. If you don’t act, you won’t hear as much next time you ask, because people will stop telling you.
5. Keep people informed. Share information that people want to know, not just what you want to tell them. Ask people for their preferred way of receiving information. Err on the side of sharing too much.
6. Reward people in meaningful ways. Pay attention to what your people truly value. If you don’t know, ask. In study after study, when people are asked what rewards matter most to them, cash awards rarely make it to the top of the list. The most frequent responses have to do with opportunities for growth and development, career advancement, verbal and written praise and personal recognition. Time off and flexible scheduling are rewards that many people value more highly than money.
7. Play fair. Before making a people-related decision, ask yourself: “Is this the fair and decent thing to do?” If the answer is “no,” reconsider or find an alternate plan.
8. Be authentic. Be open, honest and ethical.
9. Be human. Remember, no matter what the business agenda is, people are always more important. Business agendas come and go but building positive people relationships is an investment that lasts.
10. Lighten up. When it’s all said and done, it’s just a job. Keep a balanced perspective and don’t take yourself or any work-related goal so seriously that you abuse, neglect or mistreat people in the process. It’s never worth it.
Remember, employees who feel valued and appreciated are motivated to do more than what is asked of them. Being a great people leader enables you to tap into that potential.
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