I was recently asked for leadership advice for a new Rezult Group leader, and many concepts and one-liners came to mind. Having led several teams and managed 50+ individuals throughout my career, one piece of advice seemed more foundational than most others: “treat everyone fairly, but not the same.”
There are plenty of books and articles on leadership that try to group people into buckets or “types” of employees or individuals. We are constantly seeking order in a chaotic world – seeking reason amidst randomness. And while it is certainly true that, on the whole, we all have more in common than we do different, great leadership pays most attention to the nuances of our individuality.
One of the many areas where tailoring your leadership approach can really impact productivity is the art of appreciation. First off, it is important that you show appreciation to your people! Gone are the days when people felt simply “fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work here!” People in today’s economy have too many working options that don’t involve working at a corporation – if you think that giving them a salary to do a job is enough motivation for them to do above-and-beyond work, you are mistaken.
Now, I’m not suggesting that our collective work ethic has declined; I just think the bar has been raised for what warrants combining the words “fortunate” and “opportunity” in the same sentence. The expectations of the new generations in the workforce have changed. In the simplest terms, when people have a multitude of employment options, including solopreneurship, the supply/demand equation gets turned on its head.
HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: it doesn’t have to cost you physical dollars to make someone feel “fortunate” to work for/with you; It just takes you telling them that you feel fortunate to have them on your team! We all know the power of “thank you” – and we all know how good it feels when someone praises us in the manner that we prefer. As this article mentions, What the Experts are Saying about Employee Appreciation , the challenge for a leader is to find out how each person on his/her team prefers to be praised. Is it a shout-out in an all-hands meeting? Is it a company-wide email? Is it acknowledgement in a private meeting or annual review? Or is it something else, like a hand-written note or a cup of coffee?
When you figure out how to praise your people in the appropriate manner, at the appropriate intervals, and for the appropriate accomplishments, you will start to see a more engaged and motivated team! And when you model appreciation and praise for your team, they will turn around and start praising each other as well! And THAT is when you create a team or organization that people feel fortunate to be a part of!