With the holiday season upon us, you can expect there will be plenty of opportunities to appreciate, celebrate, and perhaps even reward those who work with and for you.
The question is: will you make the most of the opportunity?
Do you dread this time of year?
Some leaders actually dread this time of year, although they might not want to admit it.
After all, it is a busy time of year and there can be a lot of distractions that can get in the way of getting work done, including the obligatory celebrations. Others are concerned about meeting the seemingly ever-increasing expectations for appreciation and for the kinds of awards and rewards that are often customary during the holiday season.
Now, of course, there are many who love this time of year because of all these things, and trust that somehow the work that really needs to be done will get done.
Nonetheless, wherever you may fall along the spectrum from "Santa Claus" to "Scrooge", this time of year is a great opportunity to not only communicate with your employees, but to connect with them in a way that shows you value them.
3 key questions to guide your expressions of appreciation
According to John Maxwell in his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, there are three questions that people always ask themselves when interacting with others.
If you can design and deliver your appreciation with these questions in mind, you'll not only communicate your appreciation, but will actually increase the chances it will be received as a genuine expression of just how much you value those who work for you.
Question #1: Do you care for me?
"Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." Theodore Roosevelt
For people to know you truly care about them, you have to know something about what matters to them. Extrinsic rewards like bonuses and gifts are great, but it's the context they're wrapped in that makes the real difference.
Whatever "gift" you may be giving or appreciation you're delivering, design the delivery with what matters to the receiver in mind.
Consider who and what matters most to them and you'll elevate the meaning and impact of whatever you deliver.
Question #2: Can you help me?
Consider there are more behind-the-scenes ways to show appreciation that can actually mean more and make a bigger impact than relying on "pomp and circumstance". There's an old saying in sales that "nobody wants to be sold, but everyone wants to be helped".
There are plenty of opportunities to show up and lend a hand where your presence might be unexpected. For example, you could stop by during celebratory preparations and pitch in, even if it's just for 15 minutes, rather than just showing up for the main event. This would give you the opportunity to interact with people in a very personal way.
Several years ago, while I was delivering a training program as a new consultant in my firm, the CEO showed up by surprise. I didn't realize he was there until he came up during a break to bring me a cup of tea. That simple gesture made it clear that he was there to support me rather than assess me, and it made a big impact.
Question #3: Can I trust you?
"To add value to others you must first value others." John C. Maxwell
People are unlikely to trust someone who doesn't truly value them.
Appreciation, especially this time of year, can unfortunately seem like a bit of a sales job from all vantage points because all too often it can seem obligatory.
In order to gain trust through delivering appreciation in any form, your words and actions must above all else be genuine.
So focus your message on what you authentically value about the individual. This could include not only their actions or results, but also the ways in which they carried out what they did, including things like their energy, their attitude, and their leadership to name a few.
Use the holiday season as an opportunity to appreciate your employees
Take the opportunity the holiday season presents to connect and grow your relationships, rather than squander them by going through the motions.
Appreciation is an art that can take a lifetime to master. So keep these three questions in mind as you navigate the season to deliver appreciation that matters.
Your turn: How will you show your employees you appreciate them this holiday season?