With the holiday season just around the corner, I can’t keep myself from thinking about employee recognition. Saying thank you and showing gratitude are important aspects of the holidays and something that we try to do year-round at Emergenetics®.
Positive recognition helps employees feel appreciated, engaged and motivated, and companies with recognition-rich cultures have been shown to have significantly higher retention.
One study even demonstrated that the ratio of positive to negative comments is a key indicator of team success, with the best performing teams averaging 5.6 positive statements for each negative one.
In many instances, when we as leaders, managers or learning and development specialists acknowledge others, we tend to use the same methods for each employee. Perhaps it’s a positive mark on their performance evaluation, or a quick email to say thank you for a job well done.
While these actions are certainly positive, they can be far more impactful when we adjust our approach to meet the needs of our employees’ preferred Attributes.
Let’s consider an example. Perhaps you are someone who likes to recognize employees by celebrating their contributions in a large gathering. That action may be appreciated by a person in the third-third of Expressiveness. However, someone in the first-third of Expressiveness may feel a bit uncomfortable in this situation and may have much preferred receiving an email or a one-on-one thank you.
As you reflect on how you will show gratitude this season, I invite you to consider these suggestions to recognize your employees in a way that honors their preferences.
For those with an Analytical preference:
- Highlight how their contribution connects to the bottom line or the company’s larger objectives
- Offer accurate, logical feedback
- Keep your statements short and to the point
For those with a Structural preference:
- Provide details and specifics about what was so impactful about their actions
- Make sure your feedback is timely and clear
- Offer your sentiments in writing
For those with a Social preference:
- Paint a picture of their work and tell the story of their actions
- Connect their contribution to the people they positively impacted
- Provide feedback in person
For those with a Conceptual preference:
- Connect their contribution to the big picture
- Reflect on the future impact of their actions
- Limit the details and keep your comments brief
Depending on the individual’s preference for Expressiveness:
- First-third: Offer feedback in writing or a one-on-one setting, and give them time to process the information
- Third-third: Offer feedback publicly, and give them a chance to talk about their experience
Depending on the individual’s preference for Assertiveness:
- First-third: Recognize them at a pre-scheduled time, such as a one-on-one or team meeting
- Third-third: Recognize them immediately following their actions
Depending on the individual’s preference for Flexibility:
- First-third: Provide feedback during a pause in their day
- Third-third: Offer your thoughts at any time – they won’t mind the interruption
Five Additional Tips to Recognize and Celebrate Employees
I understand that you may not always have someone’s Emergenetics Profile on hand, and you can still find ways to say thank you in a meaningful way.
Whenever you’re celebrating your employees’ successes, I invite you to consider the following:
While you do not need to provide feedback instantly following an employee’s actions, I recommend that you recognize their contribution in a timely fashion so that the memory of the event is still fresh in their mind.
Vague statements like “good job” are nice, and your feedback will be more impactful when you offer specific comments about what made your employees’ work so meaningful.
Reflect on what you would like to say before you say it. Writing down your feedback first can be helpful whether you intend to send an email or express your thoughts in person.
To honor different preferences, I invite you to use multiple formats to celebrate employees. In addition to emails or one-on-one meetings, consider writing thank you notes, giving shout-outs in team gatherings or creating a gratitude wall in a public location.
Even without an Emergenetics Profile, you can still ask your team members how they would prefer to receive positive recognition and what would make the message more meaningful to them. Their input can then help guide your actions.
Every team member is unique, and so are their inclinations for receiving feedback. When you try to honor your employees’, teammates’ and colleagues’ preferred Attributes, you will find that they are more motivated and appreciative of the recognition, leading to a more positive workplace culture.
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