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Excellence SALES AND SERVICE
THE MAGAZINE OF TEAM LEADERSHIP
Core Values Negotiation Know-How Judy Umlas Consultant
“Sales and Service Excellence is a phenomenal resource for sales professionals who want to grow and achieve more in their careers.”
Acknowledgment Build It Into Your Culture
—T OM H OPKINS, AMERICA’S #1 SALES TRAINER w w w . L e a d e r E x c e l . c o m
Acknowledgment B u i l d
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by Judy Umlas
OW DO YOU CREATE A CUL-
ture of acknowledgment? I encourage the use of heartfelt and spontaneous acknowledgments. However, you can also practice a more formal process of recognition simultaneously. For example, I recently held a webinar with 60 managers from Finland. Later, I received an enthusiastic e-mail from Dean Pattrick, PMP, telling me about an internal program introduced at Nokia called the Peer-to-Peer Recognition Award. He sent me a copy of the certificate that he and the HR department put together to recognize achievement in one of the company’s four core values, Achieving Together. He filled in this certificate for eight people—and the response he got from each of them was “jaw-dropping.” People were thrilled and delighted with the recognition certificates and comments. Acknowledgment is a human need, especially at work. Many companies are starting formal practices like Nokia’s, and I applaud them. I also acknowledge Mr. Pattrick for putting this practice into action. Does your organization have a formal process for recognizing its employees?
Create an Acknowledgment Culture
On another trip to Finland, I spoke on the power of acknowledgment to 800 attendees at a global project management conference in Helsinki. Before my presentation, I kept hearing managers say: “In Finland you are being acknowledged when your boss says, ‘That wasn’t too bad a job that you did’.” And in Germany, I was told that being acknowledged is when your boss doesn’t say anything to you. I tell people they can single-handedly be agents for dramatic change—if they acknowledge others in a heartfelt and authentic way, it will catch on. But can you change an entire culture? Could 800 managers in Finland turn a culture around? Even I had my doubts. In my presentation, I invited everyone to think of one person in their professional life that wanted, needed, and deserved their acknowledgment but to whom they had never fully delivered it. Two brave people shared their profound and heartfelt acknowledgments of their Finnish bosses in the audience! S A L E S
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Each time I asked both the acknowledger and the acknowledgee to stand. People were deeply moved and said this exchange never occurs in Finland. Well, it did. Just because something is missing from a culture does not mean that it is not desirable. Acknowledgment is a basic human need, in every culture. I have since received e-mails from people in Finland telling me they’ve started to acknowledgment colleagues and family members in a sincere way and are extremely pleased with the results. So I’m now becoming confident enough to say that yes, one manager can certainly begin to change a culture.
A Manager’s Call to Action
Ultimately, managers are committed
to making a difference. It doesn’t matter whether they are solving a problem or filling a need, building a bridge or creating new software that will do a job better, faster and easier. The goal of management is always to make things work and work well. And that makes a difference—in people’s lives, communities, schools, and environment. Passion is another element that we love to see in our teams. We prefer to work on a team with people who won’t stop until things get done and get done right. These are people who are profoundly connected to, and engaged in, the outcome of the project. They keep the big picture in mind, and know that what they do is valued, important, and worthwhile. And then there’s balance—the ultimate key to self-actualization and satisfaction in life and in work. Giving back is a key part of a balanced life. More organizations are engaging employees in community service, and more managers are serving as mentors. Balance, passion and making a difference should be your call to action. What you wake up for, what you see as your pur-
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pose in life, and what you keep in front of you as a guidepost will challenge and inspire you—and those around you. Senior managers rank among the most under-acknowledged people. Perhaps we wonder if that praise will be taken the wrong way. Will they think we’re just trying to get on their good side? Don’t hold back appreciation because of a person’s position or influence.
The Courage to Acknowledge
It takes courage to acknowledge people when they do a good job. Isn’t it a simple thing to let people know how much you appreciate them, how their being part of your team makes you certain you’ll complete the project? No. Acknowledging others in a heartfelt way makes you feel vulnerable. You’re uncertain that they’ll accept the acknowledgment in the right way: What if they think you are trying to manipulate them? What if they think you are not being sincere? That’s why you need to be courageous and take the risk—at all times. It is worth it, no matter how vulnerable it makes you feel! Here are four steps you can take to create or enhance a culture of acknowledgment and appreciation on your team: 1. In meetings, announce that you will start acknowledging deserving team members for their accomplishments, and for who they are and what they bring to the team. 2. Recognize that everyone has a unique talent or gift that they bring to the team. Stress that they are all tasked with finding these gifts and talents. 3. Apply the 7 principles of acknowledgment: 1) the world is full of people who deserve to be acknowledged; 2) acknowledgment builds intimacy and creates powerful interactions; 3) acknowledgment neutralizes, defuses, deactivates, and reduces the effect of jealousy and envy; 4) recognizing good work leads to high energy, great feelings, quality performance and terrific results; 5) truthful, heartfelt and deserved acknowledgment always makes a difference in a person’s life and work; 6) acknowledgment can likely improve the emotional and physical health of both the giver and the receiver; and 7) practice different ways of getting through to people. Do they recognize that being acknowledged is an innate need? 4. Share Stephen R. Covey’s quote: Next to physical survival, the greatest human need is to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated. Create a culture of acknowledgment and appreciation. SSE Judy Umlas is SVP of International Institute for Learning and author of The Power of Acknowledgment. Call 212-515-5154. ACTION: Create an acknowledgment culture.
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