A lot of what I do involves helping people find new work. For my clients, it’s a highly defined process of discovery, learning, and quite simply, hard work. It’s a managed pause for people to identify what they want, what they need and then, strategically working toward obtaining it.
But what if you’re not especially happy with your work, yet you can’t or don’t want to make a move? What you can do is re-energize your current job with a few simple changes in your routine.
This will not magically turn a ‘bad fit’ into a dream job. It might however help you develop better relationships with your colleagues and your organization. Whether you ultimately stay or move on, improved connections with colleagues is a universal standard of career success.
The Benefits of Connection
People who form strong and productive connections with colleagues tend to be happier, are loyal to their workplace and stay in their jobs longer. That’s good because turnover is stressful for the employee and expensive for the employer.
Each of us has the ability to improve interpersonal connections at work. It begins by acknowledging that this is your responsibility, NOT the responsibility of your employer. It’s up to you to make this a part of your personal professional development.
For the Manager & the Managed
Begin with facts about human nature. As social creatures we’re attracted to places with like-minded people. When we congregate at work, we crave acceptance and work to establish trust within a group. We ALL want to contribute.
As a starting point, you can encourage a trusting work environment by appreciating and recognizing the work of others. When we appreciate and recognize others we connect on a human level, are viewed as valued colleagues and are able to collaborate more freely. When acceptance and trust are present, it’s easier to find support towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself or the company has set for you.
Defining Appreciation and Recognition
Appreciation and recognition are like fraternal twins. They’re related but not identical. Each brings unique qualities, that, when used together, identify you as a trustworthy and accepting colleague.
Appreciation is the acknowledgement of the qualities of another. Appreciation expresses thanks for specific skills, abilities or ideas that have resulted in a positive collaboration or a new idea. Appreciation is most effective when delivered in
Appreciation sounds like –
“I am grateful for your ability to …”
“It means a lot to know that you bring your best ideas to our problem solving conversations.”
Recognition is acclaim for an achievement, service or ability; it celebrates hard work and success against a task or deliverable. Recognition is most effective when delivered in a public setting.
Recognition sounds like-
“Awesome job on…”
“Please join me in congratulating…”
“I would like to recognize the work, effort and outstanding contribution of …”
Practicing appreciation and recognition in equal amounts is your one-two punch for increasing connections with others. Incorporating these practices into your daily routine may represent a shift in your current behavior, but the effort will be rewarded with a higher degree of trust, collaboration and loyalty.
- Walk around. Dedicate 20 minutes each day to walking the halls and checking in with your colleagues-in their space. It’s not only good physical exercise, you’ll learn a lot by listening to others.
- Appreciate one person each day. Unless you work in a two-person office, this may seem like overkill. It’s not. The simple act of expressing appreciation will immediately connect you with the activities of others. This is an acknowledgement of behavior, not workflow, and not an opportunity to delegate.
- Whether supervisor or staff, open your one-on-one meetings with a comment of appreciation. Everyone, regardless of title, wants to be noticed.
- Ask the department head to build recognition time into staff meetings. Begin each meeting with 2 minutes for recognizing colleagues. This is a good way for all staff members to embrace and adopt the practice.
- Create department-wide recognition activities. A newsletter, intranet shout out or a quarterly staff breakfast become events that enhance interpersonal connections.
- If you have direct reports, task them with developing a staff recognition program. They can aggregate what they hear, identify important trends and recommend next steps.
Each of these practices represent a small shift and are easily incorporated into daily routines. It is more impactful to consistently deliver appreciation and recognition activities than launch a single, large-scale initiative.
Your humble acts of appreciation and recognition will be noticed. You will be perceived as a trusted colleague and included in conversations and decision-making. Appreciating and recognizing the behavior and work of others will help you achieve greater happiness at work.
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