What if I told you that creating a highly engaged culture in the workplace comes down to just two words? Here’s a hint: these are the words that you have been hearing since you were a child and they are still just as relevant today.
Did you guess “thank you?” Yes, these two words truly make a difference. When someone says “thank you,” they are giving you a gift. When you say, “It was nothing,” you are rejecting that gift. STOP IT! Start completing the cycle of appreciation by saying “you’re welcome” or “my pleasure.” When you change your language, you change your level of employee engagement.
During a workshop I presented for a utility department, we did one of my very favorite employee engagement activities that I like to call “Lisa Ryan’s soon to be famous “Thank you – You’re welcome” exercise. Here’s how it works – partners sitting next to each other go back and forth with “thank you,” “you’re welcome” three times and then switch.
By being made aware of the language they were using, these guys began to understand the power THEY had to make a difference. They committed to holding each other accountable. Do you think it lasted? Yes! Six months later, when this client invited me back to present another program, the manager told me he still saw the results. Language matters.
Remember, what gets recognized gets repeated. By focusing on bad behavior exclusively, guess what you’ll get more of! If you want good behavior, recognize when your employees do things well. Now, I am not telling you to accept mediocrity – “Yea, you only came in 15 minutes late today – good job!’ No, catch your employees doing things right.
Here are key tips to applaud and acknowledge the efforts of your staff:
- Follow the Platinum Rule. Recognize your team members in the way THEY want to be recognized. Some people love public praise; others don’t. If you’re not sure – ASK.
- Catch employees doing things right. One workshop attendee told me, “When I do something wrong, I get recognized 100% of the time. When I do something well, my manager rarely says anything at all.” Research shows us that people on high-performing teams hear an average of 5 positives for every one negative. On average performing teams, the number goes down to 2:1, and for low-performing teams, it’s a miserable .3:1. If you’re not getting the type of performance you want, look at your own positivity ratio.
- Provide tangible evidence. When you tell someone you appreciate them; you create a beautiful memory. When you write it down, you create a treasure. A post-it note with a smiley face on it given at the right time may be just what that employee needed.
There you go – when you change your language AND focus on applauding the efforts of your team members, and you will change your workplace, one “thank you” at a time.
Read Watch Your Language – The Power of Positive Communication in Employee Engagement and the other informative articles in this issue of Soar to Success magazine.