I’ve managed several dozen teams over the years and I’ll tell you the truth: I like being a manager. It’s hard work, caught between the C-suite and the entry level, getting your tasks completed while keeping tabs on your team’s progress. Even when you’re done with all the tactical things that must get done every day, you’re under pressure to see the strategic and make recommendations for more efficient processes. In the best of times, you get to see value in the business increase and great things happen. You’re trusted with so many responsibilities and get the thrill of meeting deadlines. And every day, you’re working as hard as you can, and asking your employees to do the same.
I get it, I do. Managing means negotiating department differences, producing great work, and oh yeah, managing your people. Hopefully you’re going beyond the daily grind stone to motivate your team to produce more, asking them to work alongside you to achieve goals, but there’s another side to management that falls by the wayside during the daily firefights: Recognizing the contributions your employees are making and appreciating them now.
Managers are under such pressure to produce results; sometimes we forget that if you don’t properly recognize the results your people are already producing, they’re not going to produce more. Failure to recognize your employees just means more work for you in the end.
The bottom line is managers keep employees motivated to produce work, but good managers motivate their employees by recognizing the work they’re already doing, so they’ll produce even better work in the future.
It takes almost no time to add an extra sentence to an email you’re already sending recognizing something specific about your employee’s work.
Keep a stack of note cards at your desk and write a note when you notice your employee going above and beyond; it takes one minute (unless you have to find a pen, then maybe 90 seconds if you really have to hunt, I know, I’ve timed it.)
During your weekly meetings, ask your employees to give you a heads-up for someone on the team who is doing great work without previous fanfare. Prompt them with sentences like, “If you had to pick one person on the team who has really gone above and beyond this week, who would it be?” It’s a small mental shift in the way you think about your team: give them the recognition they need so they’re happier at work, which reduces the tasks you’re accountable for, and creates a happier team.
It’s time to stop telling yourself you don’t have the mind-share to recognize your employees, because the truth is you can’t afford not to. You manage people, and people need to know they are appreciated. Keep the team you have, show them you care, praise their accomplishments, and your team will shine.