Fundraisers know that saying “Thank you!” is a powerful way to connect people to our organization. Eileen Chadnick, a certified coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto, says that appreciation and recognition can fuel optimism and resilience among our staff as well, especially during tough economic times.
We recognize that principle for donors, even if we don’t implement it quite the way we should. But how many of us in leadership positions go out of our way to create appreciation and recognition for our staff? As legions of Boomers retire, your best people can still find other opportunities even in this economy. If you want to hang on to them, start building a more appreciative work environment today.
Chadnick offers several suggestions to help you get started, beginning with your attitude and that of your team. If you and your team model positive, affirming behaviour, it will attract positive behaviour in others, she told The Globe and Mail. Smile more, choose to express the optimistic side of things and be pleasant to work with.
Good thanks, great thanks
Chadnick reminds us that it’s important to notice and thank staff members for their contribution to your mission. The acknowledgement can be as simple as “Thanks for getting this done on time in a particularly busy week.”
It’s even better, she continues, if you can be specific about the traits behind the accomplishment. “Thanks, Nadera – you were very resourceful and creative in producing this exceptional report” shows Nadera that you recognize who she is and value her character strengths, not just the task she’s completed.
Finding time to say thanks
The frenzy of work and life often results in a culture of rush, Chadnick observes. That’s especially true for nonprofits, where shrinking budgets and growing client demand urge us on to the next challenge the moment a task or project is finished.
But to those who have just completed something significant, charging onward without a pause can appear to devalue what they’ve just accomplished. Take the time to recognize milestones and completion of significant tasks, Chadnick counsels. The sense of accomplishment you create will energize people to take on the next milestone.
How to say thanks
Successes come in all shapes and sizes, and so does gratitude. Find different, inexpensive ways to keep your team recognized or energized – a cake for completing a major milestone in a complex project; or a card to an individual who found a way to do something better, faster and cheaper.
There are many small ways to make a big difference in the lives of hard-working employees, Chadwick says. The key is to pause meaningfully, note and acknowledge.
Remember too that you don’t have to keep the impressive efforts and successes of others a secret. Many people find it rewarding to be acknowledged publicly among their colleagues. Send an e-mail to a group, team or the whole organization highlighting someone’s achievement, or acknowledge it in a meeting.
Finally, remember to give yourself the appropriate pat on the back from time to time to keep your own resilience and energy up. You make a difference that counts, no matter how large or small it is.
This article is reprinted from the August 15, 2009 edition of Canadian Fundraiser, a Hilborn publication.