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Empowering Leadership: The Best 3 Ways to Acknowledge Your Team

One of our most basic human needs is to feel valued and appreciated.  And on average, a person works about 128 months in their lifetime.  That is an enormous amount of time that we spend contributing to the betterment of others throughout our professional lives.  As leaders, it is our job to ensure that our direct reports and teams know that they are important and matter.  

Leadership is more than making decisions and providing direction; it is also about recognizing and appreciating the efforts of your team. Acknowledging your team members is a crucial aspect that fosters a positive and motivated work environment. In this blog post, we will explore the three best ways for leaders to acknowledge their teams and cultivate a culture of appreciation.

Regular and Personalized Recognition:

One of the most effective ways to acknowledge your team is through regular and personalized recognition. Each team member brings unique skills and qualities to the table, and acknowledging these individual contributions can significantly boost morale.

Start by taking the time to understand each team member's strengths, interests, and accomplishments. Additionally, ask each person how they like to be recognized.  Every person is different and has varied preferences. 

When you notice exceptional performance, acknowledge it based on preference.  Some may appreciate you doing so during team meetings or through other communication channels. Personalize your recognition to make it more meaningful, showing that you are aware of and appreciate each person's specific efforts.

I recall working with a leader who had a disdain for public recognition.  He was noticeably clear that he valued feedback, yet he wanted those conversations to occur individually.  I made sure to honor and respect his wishes.     


Furthermore, consider implementing an employee recognition program where outstanding contributions are rewarded. This could include awards, certificates, or other incentives. Recognizing achievements regularly not only boosts motivation but also reinforces a positive team culture.

Open and Constructive Feedback:

Acknowledging your team also involves providing open and constructive feedback. Effective leaders understand the importance of both positive and developmental feedback to help their team members grow and excel.

When offering feedback, focus on specific achievements and areas for improvement. Use a constructive and encouraging tone, emphasizing the value of the individual's work. Additionally, make sure feedback is timely, allowing team members to make necessary adjustments promptly.

Create a culture where feedback is a two-way street. Encourage team members to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. This open communication fosters trust and collaboration, creating a supportive environment where everyone feels acknowledged and valued.

These are my favorite go-to questions that I encourage leaders to ask their team to role model requesting feedback:

1.      What should I continue doing?

2.      What should I stop doing?

3.      What should I start doing that I am not doing at all?

Enlisting feedback from your team demonstrates your openness and willingness to listen, learn and make changes, as necessary.

Celebrate Milestones and Achievements:

Team accomplishments, whether big or small, should be celebrated. As a leader, it is essential to recognize and commemorate milestones and achievements, fostering a sense of pride and camaraderie within the team.

When a project is completed, take the time to acknowledge the collective effort. This could involve a team celebration, a special lunch, or even a simple thank-you note expressing your gratitude for their hard work. Celebrating achievements not only acknowledges individual contributions but also reinforces the team's shared goals and accomplishments.

In addition to acknowledging project milestones, recognize the personal and professional achievements of team members, such as work anniversaries, certifications, or promotions. These celebrations create a positive and motivating work environment, inspiring team members to continue delivering their best.

Acknowledging your team is an integral part of effective leadership that contributes to a positive and productive work environment. By implementing regular and personalized recognition, providing open and constructive feedback, and celebrating milestones and achievements, you can cultivate a culture of appreciation within your team. Remember, a well-acknowledged team is a motivated and high-performing team.

“Leaders don’t look for recognition from others, leaders look for others to recognize.”  Simon Sinek


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