This week we take a closer look at what "effective acknowledgment" looks like.

Remember the basic premise is that if you see it you need to say it. We all want to feel relevant, that our efforts matter. There is no better way to boost morale and reinforce good behavior than with
sincere acknowledgement.

For leaders this is easy to do and easy not to do. We get so focused conquering the daily to-do list that many times we walk right past opportunities to acknowledge great efforts and impactful contributions.

All great coaches understand the value of team morale over a long season. Technique and game strategies are crucial, but molding a group of individuals into a team that can stay motivated in spite of the ups and downs and the good and bad is one of the "intangibles" that separate the best of coaches and leaders.

Great leaders get out of their office and manage by wandering around. They communicate value by asking the right questions and actively invest time in the lives of their people. For some, this ability is built into their personalities. Perhaps they had a parent or coach who modeled this behavior for them at an impressionable stage of their lives. For others, this does not come quite so naturally.

There is a good reason why we have chosen to focus on developing nurturing techniques so early in the new year. It is a fundamental foundation of leadership effectiveness.

So how do we go about growing this crucial behavior? It starts with recognizing and refining your nurturing skill set. Here are a few tips to consider:

When acknowledging an effort or accomplishment, show you are paying attention to detail by giving more than just a "great job on that." Instead take the time to review in detail. "Joe, you showed great patience and self control with Mr. Jones. I know how frustrating he can be, and you were professional and personable. That extra effort was the key to the sale." Go the extra mile in acknowledgment. It sends the non verbal message that no detail gets past you as a leader.

Acknowledge important personal and professional events in an employee’s life. If there is a wedding, the birth of a child, a graduation, a birthday or anniversary, make sure you recognize these milestones. This communicates that you are paying attention and have a genuine interest in what happens in the course of their lives. Creating some type of system for capturing this information is important. This is an area where intentionality pays big dividends.

Find opportunities to bless your team through gift cards to their favorite stores, or by giving them time off to attend important events in the lives of their family. If you have an employee who is managing a long term illness of a loved one, giving them the opportunity to attend to that at times will communicate love, care and respect.

Acknowledge an employee’s good idea or accomplishment in a group meeting with other employees. “We are implementing Cindy's innovative shipping strategy for new customers.” Other times it may be appropriate to send out a company wide email praising a specific teams successful project completion. On a larger scale, at times it may be of great value to send out a company wide email letting everyone know how much you appreciate all of the efforts of the team. It only takes a few moments of your time, but you never know how many times an employee may reread that email or how many will talk about it.

Acknowledgment can be more than you communicating to an employee. When you initiate conversation and actively listen and ask questions, you communicate value as well. Active communication acknowledges that you are receiving a person’s message when you respond in one of the following ways:

• What I hear you saying is …….
• Let me see if I understand your strategy …….
• What you’re telling me is that ……..
• In other words …….

When you acknowledge in this manner you communicate that the agenda is not about you. It is about allowing the other person to be heard and understood. Many times this may be enough to solve a minor issue that may otherwise fester into a larger problem. At the very least, it communicates value.

Another key area of effective listening is to understand and acknowledge the emotion level of the situation. Not all conversations will be calm and pleasant. The conversational tone may elevate due to their passion or personal investment in a project or person. Their need to be heard and understood may outweigh their ability to focus on the details of the problem, so it is crucial for you to acknowledge this before moving on to a solution. Understanding and defusing this emotional barrier allows you to effectively help work towards a solution.

Great leaders are focused on positive conversational outcomes. That means you must be intentional about listening, not just imposing your agenda. Constantly remind yourself that the goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. Great leaders keep emotions out of it and stay focused on that goal.

Again, thank you for spending a few moments of your day with us. It shows you care. It shows you are serious about leadership growth and impacting others.

We would like to leave you with this encouraging verse:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about (AND SAY) such things. Philippians 4:8

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