I was talking to a colleague the other day about a work situation that is less than admirable. Tension, uncertainty, and now, backstabbing. Not the kind of place where any sort of real work would be expected to get done. But what do you do when your team, or even worse, your company, has gotten to that point?
The obvious first thing to say is don’t let it get to that point form the first place. When I’ve taught classes, both formally and informally, on project management, I am always sure to not glaze over the section on people skills and team dynamics. This is sometimes the hardest area for a great leader to grasp – that s/he wouldn’t get there without the people that helped them along the way. Project managers who are big task masters sometimes forget simple niceties like “please,” “thanks,” and “hello.” But by in large, one of the most damaging actions a leader can do to their team, is not give them credit where it is due.
Most of the time, this simply an acknowledgment of a good job or task completed. “Thanks for finishing that project” or “I really appreciate your weekly reports.” Neither is required, but over time they make the difference between a happy employee who feels appreciated and one who doesn’t. Practice makes perfect, here. A person can tell when you are being canned or insincere in your delivery – so don’t say it unless you mean it.
The worst, though, is when a leader doesn’t acknowledge that their employee came up with an idea, or worse, steals it from them completely. It sounds like an obvious no-no, but it happens all the time.
I developed an entertainment property concept once. It was a preschool property, then called Superinas, about a troupe of super-hero ballerinas. I even sewed tutus for the company pitch so myself and another gal that I brought in to help me flesh out the idea could twirl around and show how fun a series it would be. I had no intention of writing, drawing, directing or producing the series, so giving the idea to the company was a no-brainer. All I wanted was a simple nod from time to time, acknowledging that I come up with it initially. And thankfully, everyone did that and all was good, all the way up until the last day I was at the company.
Acknowledgment goes so far. Don’t overlook it. If you do, you may just find you have less employees to be acknowledging overall – which is not a good thing.
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