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Great leaders of high-producing teams recognize a crucial component of team building: the acknowledgment of others. Giving people the acknowledgment they deserve will not only lift up the culture of a team, but it will increase the team’s production and performance. It’s as simple as it sounds, but it’s not always easy to incorporate this practice into your everyday habits and actions as you work with your team.
You’ve probably experienced this in your own career — people are quick to notice when you’re not meeting expectations but fail to recognize all the times you are performing well and dedicating effort and time to your duties. It feels discouraging and it also decreases your own motivation to work harder and prove yourself. If you can master verbally uplifting your team, it will level up your business.
How to make acknowledgment part of your daily routine
Sometimes it’s hard to focus on uplifting others when we are such individually-driven beings. We want to get the credit we deserve, and sometimes we put that above giving credit to others.
Masterful leaders have learned to set aside their undying thirst for credit and recognition because they’re in it for the long game. They see the big picture, and that big-picture success depends on other team players who are motivated, dedicated and invested in the team as much as you are. But how do we get into this mindset of constantly uplifting others if we’re not already there?
- Be an active listener. Focus on your conversations and the conversations that others are having. What are they proud of? What are their concerns? What issues did they spend the afternoon figuring out how to solve? What tough clients or projects are they working on? By being an active listener, you will have countless opportunities throughout the day to listen to the successes of your team members throughout the day and to shine the spotlight on their wins, no matter how big or small.
- Be specific with your words. While we all like to hear “good job,” the compliment can feel meaningless and generic. If someone caught an error on a client project or put together a thorough presentation for your team, be specific in your praise to them. Not only does this take honesty in being genuine with your words, but it takes practice. Identify particular tactics or creative thoughts they had throughout their process and highlight the clearly defined reasons that contributed to their performance. They will feel seen and know that your words are authentic.
- Focus on what they’re good at before focusing on what they lack. If someone is underperforming on your team, it’s easy to turn your attention to the tasks they’re failing to accomplish. Before criticizing them or giving immediate feedback on how they can improve, first focus on what they’re accomplishing or performing well at, even if the tasks are small or part of their expected duties. Build up their self-esteem with what they’re doing well, and that increase in self-confidence can spill over into the areas where they’re underperforming. When people feel like their strengths are highlighted before their weaknesses, they will feel greater reassurance when moving on to more challenging tasks.
How acknowledgment helps you and your team
We’ve been told to uplift others our whole lives, from classrooms as children or even on sports teams and other activities growing up, but it might be hard to recognize quantifiable ways that words of recognition help the productivity and the bottom line of your business. Spreading acknowledgment could help you and your team in various ways:
- It increases employee retention. All other factors aside, if someone has the choice between staying in a workplace where they’re constantly encouraged and acknowledged versus staying where their successes are rarely acknowledged, they will stay at the workplace of acknowledgment every single time. Employees want to stay on a team where they feel supported, heard and seen. Calling team members out on their wins could also give them the courage to speak up if they need extra help or even own up to a mistake and take corrective measures to fix it, avoiding more significant issues or financial losses in the future.
- It enhances your teamwork and collaboration. Establishing a business culture of uplifting each other and highlighting each other’s strengths, will increase the interpersonal relationships on a team. Each team member feels like they are being supported by the other, which increases the teamwork and collaboration between everyone. Employees are more engaged and willing to go above and beyond if they feel the organization recognizes their value and celebrates their growth.
- By acknowledging others, they acknowledge you. Fill up others’ cups, and they will fill up yours. Acknowledgment isn’t an exception to the law of reciprocity — when you acknowledge when others are doing well, they’ll do the same for you. Odds are, they’ll probably start doing it to others on the team as well. Uplifting words are easier to give when you receive them regularly, but sometimes you have to be the one to start that cycle. When others lift you and call out your wins, they can testify to your capabilities later down the road, whether you’re locking down a new client or moving into a higher-paying role.
All great things are built with cohesive teams; nothing tears down a team faster than those who want the credit for everything. Lift people up for what they are doing instead of being quick to point out what they aren’t doing, and they’ll do the same for you. You have to do it first and do it consistently to create a winning environment for your business. If you become a highlighter of the capabilities of others, you’ll start an acknowledgment culture in that everyone will participate, leading to greater productivity and success.