We all – especially the managers amongst us – are aware of the fact that our staff needs to be recognized and their work be appreciated to support their motivation and to keep them willing and able to do their work. But how and where do I, as the boss or a colleague, express my appreciation for the work done by remote employees?
The places and opportunities we have normally used for communication and mutual appreciation have all gone – such as coffee breaks, the little chat in the corridor, the short time before a meeting starts, or simply having a quick look at intermediate results. There is no personal contact, even less by chance, but only in video calls which are very focused and limited in time. We have but one option: we need to actively create opportunities to express our appreciation.
In the following, I have compiled a couple of ideas how you as a manager or colleague may express appreciation to your employees who are working from home:
1) Say thank you and express your appreciation via electronic ‘Kudo’ cards: see below for two links to websites where you can customize colorful and beautiful cards with a personal note. You can simply ask yourself the following questions:
- how did the colleague help me?
- where did the person contribute to the team’s success?
- what kind of behavior of that person did I like especially?
and the ideas for your personal note will be flowing. You may send such a card every few weeks. Needless to say that it is important that the text should remain authentic and does not come across as being feigned or forced. This criterion is the natural driver for determining the frequency.
2) If you have the private mailing address, you may go one step further and write a “real” card – something which may brighten up the dreary daily routine in times of social distancing and digitalization. You can certainly beat this only with real small presents. However, they should be of a rather symbolic nature so that they cannot be mistaken for some form of incentive.
3) If the team has got used to expressing appreciation in public, a separate “Kudo channel” may be the tool to rely on. This might be a separate channel in Slack or MS Teams (depending on which tool the team uses); the sole purpose of such channel is to express mutual appreciation and gratitude. Such as: “Thank you, Tom, for your help in designing the workshop – we made considerable progress thanks to your input!” or “Elisa, that was really awesome yesterday that you subbed for me and held the presentation because I had to pick up my son from daycare earlier than planned.”
4) Another possibility is to use the regular team meeting as a platform for coworker appreciation. For example, you may honor in public one team member at the beginning of the meeting each week. In the context of such public initiatives, it is important to keep an eye on the individual members and to carefully consider whether the person to be honored would rather prefer to receive thanks and appreciation in private.
5) This brings up the next possibility for expressing appreciation: when individual discussions in the office are not doable, then simply pick up your phone or make a video call. One-on-one meetings may well be held remotely. It is the time alone you dedicate to the other person that is a true testament of your appreciation. Thus, your coworker is rest assured that he is recognized.
6) Another aspect that has been lost recently is the ‘well, let’s just have a look at what you did there and let me help you with that’. It is so much of a relief to together think about something, instead of always brooding over your own work behind closed doors. What to do? Simply make an appointment to “collaborate” – 30 minutes per day with another person, and it almost feels like a day in the office... Because appreciation also comes when you simply work together.
7) One aspect should not be forgotten: celebrate and honor successes. It is important for the team as a whole to look back on the achievements and to become aware of what has actually been achieved in a joint effort. A brief description of the achievements or a picture of the results as an illustration visible to everyone is normally enough to give a major boost to motivation. In short: celebrate as often as it is appropriate!
In a nutshell: Appreciation pays off in all directions. This is also due to the fact that it has a multiplier effect: whoever is given appreciation is more inclined to express appreciation herself/himself. Well, the solo self-employed person, who neither has colleagues nor supervisors, probably will have no choice but to express his appreciation to himself on his own and to make himself aware of what he himself has achieved.
This text first appeared in my newsletter 'Innovation on Wednesday'. It is published every other Wednesday. For subscription click here