Acknowledge: 1) To recognize and accept; 2) To show that one has noticed; 3) To express appreciation.
Remember to say “please” and “thank-you”. Simple as this childhood lesson seems, we still find that small child who craves positive feedback beneath the well-protected adult veneer. It does matter if our days are filled with endless constructive criticism over weaknesses. Counter a focus on negatives with an equal or greater dose of basic human courtesy plus with thanks for a job well done.
Treat acknowledgement as a natural fit with your day. Taking time to acknowledge others is not a chore to be crammed into your day. It need take no longer than a passing comment or handshake, or visiting people at their workstations. Or, start meetings with feedback that recognizes those who have gone above and beyond. Look for opportunities to catch people doing things right. It’s easy.
Express your recognition with an open heart and spirit. Make it “all about them”. Speak about others’ greatness rather than intruding fanfare about your own contributions to a shared success. Soul-inspiring leaders are humble, using acknowledgement to build up people. Think the selflessness of Mother Teresa, who used the spotlight to profile her charges, not herself.
Make your feedback genuine and sincere. Since people can readily spot phony compliments, rather say nothing at all than be insincere. Particularly if team members view you as ungenerous in offering positive feedback, your sudden liberal sharing could otherwise risk becoming a flavour of the month, as in “Uh-oh, the boss has been to another one of those feedback seminars.”
Be specific in your praise. While we hear “great job” often enough in organizational corridors, this common phrase leaves employees wondering, “What exactly was great about what I just did?” Instead, describe in concrete language the behaviours you noticed, as well as the positive impact of the person’s actions. This allows them to repeat what worked in the future.
Recognize people for who they are. Rather than see people simply as human “doings”, soul-inspiring leaders recognize them as human “beings”, valuable for that reason alone. In coaching, this is the distinction between acknowledging (using statements that start with “you”, describing the unique talents the person possesses) and complimenting (where it is still about what “I” noticed).
Emphasize the how, not just the what. The how has to do with voice tone and body language – together, 93% of the total message. The what has to do with words – the other 7% of communication. How we say things is therefore significantly more important than what we say. Keep in mind that how you acknowledge others will leave a more lingering effect than what you necessarily said.
Questions For Reflection
When was the last time you said “please” or “thank you” to someone in your workplace?
How generous are you in offering positive feedback to colleagues at all levels in your organization?
Do you believe performance is enhanced by the “carrot”, or do you assume extraordinary effort is an inherent part of job requirements?