If you have the responsibility of managing employees, you are well aware that their performance has a huge impact on your job satisfaction and on the success of your business or department. Good leadership and management requires a number of significant skills, but today I want to review one in particular: encouragement.
You may have completed years of college and training, and you may have learned many impressive skills in order to rise to the position you are in today, but sincere encouragement is one of the most powerful tools you can use to motivate people to work hard and develop loyalty.
Encouraging your employees and teammates is a significant part of your leadership responsibility and success, whether they are digging ditches, writing complex computer code, responding to emergencies, teaching, helping, driving, selling a product or assembling parts. No matter what kind of work is being done, an employee will do a better job if they receive encouragement from their superiors.
One of the things I hear from coaching clients from time to time is that one of the reasons they are frustrated in their work is that they often hear what they did wrong on the job, but rarely hear that they have done something right. They feel unappreciated and discouraged and seek help to figure out what’s wrong and how to achieve more satisfaction in their careers.
For some people, encouragement comes easy – it’s just part of their nature to see the good in other people and they always have something nice to say. Bosses with this gift usually have happy, productive employees. However, some people in positions of authority are not natural encouragers and erroneously believe that their only job is to point out mistakes and ensure they are not repeated.
If you are in a position to supervise employees, and if you can’t honestly describe yourself as a natural encourager, I’m going to try to make it a little easier for you to bolster morale among your team with a few simple tips to get you started.
Greet staff personally – This seems too easy, but people respond well to being known and valued. Call them by their names, and make it a habit to make eye contact and smile. Get to know them enough to be aware of things that are important to them. “Did your mom’s surgery go well?” “How was your vacation?” “Congratulations on your new grandchild!” It’s a small effort, with a large effect.
Say “Thank you” – Never underestimate the power of simple gratitude. When someone completes a project, goes over and above, or turns in a report, be sure to thank them for their work. Be specific – “Thank you for getting me this information before the deadline.”
Acknowledge unique contribution – Pay attention to your employees so you can tell them something you appreciate about how they contribute to the workplace. Do they cooperate with the team? Exhibit good attitude? Go the extra mile to help a co-worker? Make fresh coffee? Tell your employee what you see – “I noticed that you often bring birthday cakes for others in the office. Your generosity makes this a better place to work and I appreciate it.” Instead of only looking for problems, try to catch your employee doing something right and acknowledge it.
When you must correct, emphasize future potential – You will probably never have an employee who doesn’t make a mistake or handle a situation incorrectly. When you must correct, calmly and objectively state what was done wrong, why it was wrong, and how to handle it in the future; and then end with an encouraging statement about how the outcome will be positive when the employee begins doing their job correctly. “Now that you know what went wrong, I am looking forward to seeing how much you will grow in this position and become excellent in this area of your responsibilities.” Expressing positive expectation can be encouraging, but it must be sincere in order to avoid being manipulative.
In everything, show respect – People often behave according to the way they are treated. If you treat your employees with respect, they will respond with greater loyalty and desire to continue earning your respect.
I would like to know what other ideas you have about how to encourage employees on the job. Have you discovered a way to make your employees feel valued? Let us hear from you in the comments below!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.