Making others feel valued is a crucial part of creating engaged employees who want to work hard for your company and for you as a leader. If your employees know that you think what they do—and who they are—is important, they’ll be more engaged (and research shows engaged employees are 43 percent more productive). On the other hand, if they feel disposable, you’ll see lowered morale, wasted time and maybe even retention numbers tanking. Here are 5 smart ways to recognize employees and make them feel important:
Becoming genuinely interested in them
You don’t have to be best friends with your employees, but finding out a little bit about their lives will show that you care about them as more than just bodies behind desks, and will also help you know what motivates them. This can help you be a more effective manager. For instance, if you know that several of your employees’ kids are avid baseball fans, you can include tickets to the local minor league baseball team in their holiday gifts or as a reward for extra effort on a successful project.
Be a good listener
Nothing says “you’re not worth my time” like interrupting, or having your eyes wander or glaze over while an employee is talking to you. If you demonstrate to them that you appreciate what they’re saying by making eye contact, smiling, asking relevant questions, and paraphrasing what they’re saying, they’ll instantly feel more valued after your conversation. Show employee appreciation by listening to understand, not just to hear the words.
Use people’s names
One of the ways to recognize employees is to address them by name. This not only creates a better rapport but also tells them you value them enough to learn their name. The opposite is true if you don’t take the time to learn their given name, and if possible, what they prefer to be called—they’ll think they’re just not worth your time. A great tip for learning names is to use it in conversation as soon as you meet someone. Still having trouble? Form an association between someone with the same name and this person. For instance, if his name is Brad, think of Brad Pitt.
Thank people specifically
When you want to find a way to recognize employees for their hard work on a project, thank them for what their individual contribution was on that endeavor. For example, saying “Thank you for your amazing work accurately tallying the final numbers for our last quarter. Your careful read saved our company $20,000” is a more effective way to show employee appreciation than saying “Thanks for being a good accountant.”
Never say “that’s a bad idea”
A big part of valuing people is valuing their opinions. Show your employee appreciation by finding something to praise about every idea (even if it’s only to say thank you for proactively coming up with a suggestion) and then explain that while you value their input, it’s not quite right to put into action because of X reason.
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