So today is Thanksgiving and, naturally, I have to ask what you´d done for your staff/colleagues. Most of us think of holiday as a day off from work, but it´s also a really wonderful time to think about the people who´ve helped us over the year-friends and colleagues who´ve chipped in when you thought you were going to collapse from your workload, fellow workers who covered for your when you had to take a sick kid to the doctors, etc. Instead of simply thinking about the great sales tomorrow (though they´ve already started "?¦) consider the people who deserve your thanks. I tend to think about my close friends, those who live nearby and the ones I don´t get to see. I´ve started calling some and I let go of the embarrassment of saying how much I appreciate someone a long time ago. And, of course, e-mail offers the perfect opportunity to express your appreciation.
For many managers, expressing appreciation feels awkward. Even talking for some is a stretch, but that´s mean. You know what I´m talking about, though, right? Some people are simply better at using language that at first seems strange, but like a lot of things in life, it takes practice. If you´re a parent, especially a new one, you may find yourself talking in ways (and in pitches) you never have before. You might even be singing some of your words. Why? Because you get the response you´re looking for-a smile, no more crying, someone actually going up the stairs and cleaning his room because you asked nicely. Of course you might have addressed this child with his full name and that tends to get his attention, but again, it´s in the way you communicate.
Too many people-and managers tend to be guilty a lot of the time-assume that the people working with/for them know how much they´re appreciated. Well, sure it´s much easier to assume someone can read your mind versus telling that person specifically how his or her contribution affected the entire department or bottom line or whatever. For some, it´s plain scary to appear inside a colleague´s doorway (or cube) and say, "Wow! You did a great job! I really appreciate your help." Here´s the thing though: once you start saying thank you and then noticing the effects of your praise and the way you acknowledge someone´s contribution you begin to notice a subtle change. People tend to work harder, volunteer more often for projects, and even look forward to hearing more about their work. I´ve said it before: when people feel valued they tend to work harder. Not everyone. That would be too easy. But many employees respond positively when they´re treated with respect and understanding.
Don´t think you constantly have to stroll through the office telling everyone what a great job they´re doing. You also can ask questions. Asking questions demonstrates your concern. And your asking comes across as concern for people and the company. Ask how things are going. Inquire about a certain change that has occurred and find out if it´s working or not. Ask for people´s opinions. And don´t forget to ask next week (for our American readers) how their Thanksgiving holidays went.