Puffed Up with Pride

Last week at the HTA Catering Conference panel discussion I was asked if I could pick just one thing for business owners and managers to focus on to improve employee engagement and staff retention what would that be.

My response: “Give people pride in what they do, by recognising and acknowledging their contribution to the business.”

Being recognised at work so you can be proud of your contribution can have a massive impact on employee engagement, and all the knock on benefits of customer service, staff retention and productivity.

This stems from the top, so if you are recognising your managers and supervisors so they feel pride in what they do, they are far more likely to do the same with their team members.

As well as leading by example, educate your managers and supervisors on the importance of recognition, and give them ideas, support and resources to do this.

Here are 7 ideas to get the ball rolling…

1. Common Courtesies

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show to customers. Failing to give a simple please when asking for something or a thank you when it’s delivered soon gets noted, leaving people feeling unappreciated.

A sunny smile and a cheerful “good morning” sets everyone up for the day.

2. Demonstrate Trust

We often underestimate people’s capabilities. You’ll be surprised just how resourceful your team can be given the right direction. Give flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style.

Demonstrate your trust by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise.

Play to people’s strengths, rather than making everyone mediocre at everything. Give them development and responsibility in areas in which they excel.

Identify staff champions for routine activities so there is always at least one person other than you keeping an eye on each aspect of the business. This is not only good for people’s development it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.

3. Recognition

Show you value their opinion. Involve your team in discussions and ask their advice particularly in areas where they have more involvement than you, e.g. many of them will spend more time with customers than you and often spot things you might miss.

Give meaningful feedback. Tell people how they are doing, what have they done well and how it contributes.

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty or out of their way e.g. changed their domestic arrangements to stay late to finish a project, dropped their own work to help a colleague who was in need or simply gone out of their way to help out.

Whenever you get positive feedback from a customer publicise this. The sooner you do this after the event the greater the impact.

Acknowledge those who have put considerable effort into a project even if it has just fallen short of the mark. It’s the effort you’re applauding not the result.

4. Celebrate success

Recognise and celebrate successes – for the individual, for the team or the business as a whole.

Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, brought in that special deal, or achieved an important milestone. Recognise and show your appreciation for those who have contributed to this success. This can be a great morale booster.

Acknowledge the contributions of those working on long-term projects too, and give regular updates on progress. Remember those in supporting roles too, who beaver away behind-the-scenes – including back of house staff, e.g. whoever is responsible for the cleanliness of your premises can have a massive impact on everyone.

Keep your team up to date with the bigger picture – what’s happening in your business, what else is happening in your industry, so they can be proud of your industry as a whole.

5. Going Public

Saying thank you and well done in front of the whole team may make some people feel uncomfortable, so be selective. But when done for the whole team it can give a real boost.

If you’re not the owner of the business, whenever someone does something noteworthy notify your boss (or whoever you are answerable to) and ask them to take a minute to acknowledge that person.

6. And the winner is…

Whether internal or external awards are a public way of giving recognition. Nominate your whole team or individuals for external awards. Just being nominated shows you think they are worthy of being a winner.

Create your own version of an Oscar to award each week. It doesn’t have to be the same criteria every time, just something that is noteworthy e.g. best morale booster, best ambassador for service, award to helping out a colleague, etc. Give kudos to the previous winner and allow them to choose the criteria and award it the following week.

Give public recognition via your physical or virtual noticeboard, where anyone can post a note of recognition for a colleague, so no accomplishment goes unrecognised.

7. Personal achievements

One exercise I love to do is getting people talking about an accolade or something (or someone) they’re proud of, be that in or out of work; something recent or from years back.  Just by getting them talking about these makes people feel good, as well as helping get an insight into what’s important to them.

Take time out to celebrate an achievement or special occasion. Recognise those important proud moments outside work: arrival of their first grandchild, child’s graduation, a significant contribution to a charity, a personal achievement such as passing their driving test.

Simply remembering personal milestones such as a significant birthday or wedding anniversary can make people feel valued, but even better if you do something to mark the occasion even if it’s just a simple card or cupcake.

Whatever you do to show you value your team and create proud moments, make it meaningful to the individual; not everyone is inspired by the same things, so consider what’s important to them.

Recognition is a powerful thing, so if you only do 2 things:

  1. Make a point today (and every day from now on) of doing at least one thing to show your appreciation to one or more of your team
    .
  2. Share this post with your managers and supervisors and ask them to identify one idea from the list they can start doing today…


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