Holidays are a time to reflect back on fond memories and plan for hopeful times ahead. At a recent meeting we were chatting about the survey question, “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.” I know from feedback I’ve received that some leaders are awesome at giving accolades. For them, it comes naturally and flows with enthusiasm and sincerity. On the opposite extreme are those who rarely give praise. When reviewing a project they are quick to point out areas in need of improvement but neglect to point out the good. The majority of us fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t understand why and would like to put out a challenge for change! And not just in the office but consider practicing this at home, in the grocery store and even with the person sitting next to you on the bus.
So, you might ask, what’s in it for me? How about a free dopamine boost! This is a total win-win deal here. Thanking people, recognizing the small as well as the big, creates connections. It builds confidence. It gives a sense of purpose and a sense of pride. It results in higher job satisfaction. And the feeling is so good that the recipient will likely repeat the behavior so the same effect can be repeated. Praise creates the motivation to keep us going and increases our desire to improve. Without positive feedback we become unsure, our self-esteem lowers a notch and we become resentful that no one ever notices our contributions.
And for the giver? Grateful people are more resilient. They are more flexible, handle challenges better and tend not to take things for granted. Everyone is happier and healthier.
So why is it so hard for us to give praise? It takes self-confidence. Perhaps that is because it takes the spotlight off of us and places it onto someone else. Perhaps it makes us embarrassed and uncomfortable as not everyone was raised in a nurturing environment. But practice makes perfect and if you stop and consider how many efforts go unnoticed each day and how many missed opportunities of recognition are out there, you will hopefully be inspired to take advantage of such an easy and worthwhile tool.
I remember when we first learned the importance of the hand written note there was a flurry of thanks all across Inova. It’s time to recreate that flurry of feeling good. Look someone in the eye and express your gratitude. Pull out pen and paper and jot off a note. Being touched by someone’s behavior doesn’t cost a thing. I look forward to more rounding in 2013 and hope I get a chance to see you in person and express my sincere gratitude for all you do each day for Inova.
People might not remember exactly what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.