08/06/2019

BY LUBA POPOV

After long days and weeks, unexpected challenges, and many, many draining meetings – your project team has reached their major milestone. Let’s celebrate!

As a good manager, leader and even a peer, recognizing others and celebrating milestones is an unspoken expectation to building a strong and motivated team. Everyone wants to feel recognized and celebrated in the workplace, and it pays dividends. When we show recognition to employees, they become happier – as a result, they increase productivity. However, knowing where to start with recognition isn’t always easy.

Making Recognition Personal & Effective

For me, recognition should be genuine, unique, and personal. I’ve found that the most effective form of recognition combines a balance of recognizing how others are motivated and connecting your personal passions. This shows a level of vulnerability that says, “I care about you enough and want to express my gratitude by devoting something special of mine to you.”

Combining Passions with Gratitude

Everyone around the office now knows about my personal passion for baking and has learned to almost expect: if they’re on a team with me, they’ll get to taste some delicious home-baked goodies at some point. I know, what a “sweet” way to win someone over (pun intended). However, baking is something I didn’t always feel comfortable sharing with coworkers. When we reached a milestone, or the team just needed a simple pick-me-up, I would usually opt for the typical, “You got this, team” or “You’ve done great, now let’s keep going.” But it didn’t feel special. I wanted to really show my team just how much I appreciated all the hard work they had done, and for them to personally feel my gratitude.

So, I gave it a try, I made a batch of brownies from scratch, cocoa and all, with extra chocolate chunks melted in the middle, because I knew those were a popular item. In the morning, I carried the plate in awkwardly and just left them on a table thinking everyone would just ignore them as they walk by… but everybody loved them! And what was more surprising is that they loved the extra time and care it took for me to make them!

Over time, I started getting requests to make cupcakes, and cookies, and cheesecake – each request more specific and unique to that individual or teams. If the team succeeded, I baked! If the team needed a pick-me-up – I baked again! And if I wanted to show someone personal gratitude, I’d include a thank you note. This personal passion of mine has trickled into my work-life and has actually made me better at connecting with others and expressing gratitude more effectively.

This personal passion of mine has trickled into my work-life and has actually made me better at connecting with others and expressing gratitude more effectively.

Recognizing Your Team in a Genuine Way

You don’t have to be the next Bobby Flay or Rachel Ray to show effective gratitude to your team. Ask yourself – what am I uniquely skilled at that I can share with others? Maybe you’re a wizard with words and can take the time to hand write a note of appreciation instead of verbal recognition. Or you enjoy photography and prefer to personalize your thank you cards with one of your favorite shots. Perhaps you have an interest in books and want to handpick your favorite quote to provide inspiration. Or you’re an avid fitness guru and decide to organize a team-building workout class for your team to show your gratitude. The options are endless!

Whatever way you choose to recognize those around you, make it unique and add your personal flare – because ultimately, it will be special with thought and care that truly makes an impact on those you recognize.

I’ve found that the most effective form of recognition combines a balance of recognizing how others are motivated and connecting your personal passions.

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