Seven tips to ensure your team doesn’t get overlooked.
A recent quality management class discussion centered on frustration in the workplace resulting from the lack of appropriate recognition. More than one person recounted how disheartening it was to go “above and beyond,” only to find little to no appreciation for what was accomplished. Not too surprisingly, it’s easy to be taken for granted in the workplace. Depending upon what else is happening around the organization that also merits recognition, it can be very easy to overlook the efforts of our people.
Many of us have worked with teams that have done some amazing things, resulting in eye-popping results. Even when the results came from levels of effort that seemed to border on the superhuman, managers responded with indifference or, worse yet, telling the team that level of commitment would be expected every day in the future.
No one can routinely deliver superhuman effort every day of the week. Therefore, when people do something truly awesome and noteworthy, one of our principal responsibilities is to ensure it is appropriately recognized and valued by the organization. The way to ensure no team’s significant efforts go unnoticed in the future is to be a little proactive by following a few simple guidelines.
- Always begin by asking, “How do I ensure my team receives the appropriate recognition and support they deserve, commensurate for the work they’ve done, the effort they expended and the results they’ve achieved?” This question should be the catalyst to ensure positive results don’t go unnoticed in the future. It establishes a workplace atmosphere of rewarding appropriate behaviors.
- Establishing the above puts us in the initial planning stage of a team’s project. Make sure everyone who has a stake in the project is “on board.” Also, make sure everyone’s wants, needs and desires are considered. Of course, when a team is working through its project, make sure the team’s efforts and results are clearly communicated to everyone involved.
- It is advisable to take stakeholders on a tour so they will have context for the improvements they will experience. Schedule a tour around the stakeholders’ availability. This gives them an opportunity to observe firsthand the condition of the area to be improved. It also allows them to provide additional input, ensuring they can appreciate your team’s efforts fully as the project reaches conclusion.
- Avoid the common failure mode of inviting stakeholders once and assuming they will show up. Invite your stakeholders early and often. Make sure to tell them early in the project how important their support means to the team. If your team has regular reviews, make sure to reinforce this fact. No matter the event—a tour, a regular update session or a closing meeting—it’s good to restate the importance and then do a multimedia follow up. Face-to-face, email, phone calls and getting the team’s report on the list of staff meeting agenda items are all effective ways to reach the management team multiple times. Don’t become a pest, but make sure the management team knows how important this effort is and what they can expect to see and hear at the team’s reporting session.
- Spend time coaching the management team on their role in the reporting session. Don’t assume they are going to be amazed when they see or hear the results! The key is to understand how each invitee typically responds and develop a plan to tailor the update or report-out with them in mind. It’s a good idea, if possible, to arrange a photo op with the invitees and the team for publication. This is a step above and plants a seed that this effort is truly something special. Often, the stakeholders are looking at your team’s accomplishments in light of everything else going on in the workplace, and without insight, they are going to provide their typical response to something that you know to be “above and beyond.” Never assume people know what you know to be true.
- Make certain stakeholders know that they will be expected to comment appropriately on the team’s results and its influence on the “bigger picture.” It’s sad to say but, even in this enlightened time, not everyone is focused on team-building or people development. It’s helpful to be aware of what’s going on in the stakeholder’s area of responsibility so you can help them put your team’s challenges, efforts and results in the proper context. Often, this is best achievement with the team leader or team sponsor spending face-to-face time with key stakeholders. This can be time-consuming but it can be very effective.
- If you plan well and coach the stakeholders, things should turn out reasonably well. But if things don’t turn out the way you’d hoped, despite your best effort, be sure to have a plan prepared so you know how to react. Most importantly, keep your emotions in check! Use the situation as a learning opportunity for your team. Thinking this through ahead of time can make all the difference!
Bottom line: plan and strategize the encouragement and acknowledgement of your people’s achievement. In doing so, you will make certain your teams are rarely, if ever, faced with a significant disappointment. It’s our responsibility as leaders to protect our team members and help them achieve their full potential, which is facilitated by ensuring recognition of their hard work. iBi