3 Reasons You Should Appreciate the Little Things Employees Do

Wally Bock is a fellow management and leadership blogger who never fails to inspire me. Last week he wrote (entire post here):

Say ‘Thank you’ for little things. You don’t have to wait for some grand, world-shaking achievement to thank your team members. Thank them for their effort, for improvement, for doing their jobs. Don’t reserve your praise for the big things. Say ‘Thank you’ for little things, too.”

Such an elegant statement of what is quite simple, but not all that easy.

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Three reasons to appreciate the little things

  1. The little things add up to the big things. Rarely does the next “big thing” spring from nothing. Usually “big things” come from the many hours of hard work, little inspirations and daily achievements, which deserve to be recognized and appreciated as well.
  2. Recognizing progress is just as important as recognizing results.Many projects in the workplace take years to complete. Waiting until the end to praise and recognize people for their efforts misses out on the opportunity to encourage and increase motivation along the way by honoring the importance of progress. This applies at home, too. Do you wait until your kids have graduated from school to tell them, “Great job?” Of course not! You praise, encourage and recognize every accomplishment along the way.
  3. Recognition is not a scarce resource. Give it freely … or you may miss the truly wonderful while waiting for the “big thing.” Too many recognition and reward program providers promote a “quota” based system of recognition. This does little but encourage the negative result of waiting until the end of the quota period to give out recognition because, “What if I see something better?” Recognition shouldn’t ever be considered a scarce resource. Rather, encourage employees to pause, notice and actively appreciate their colleagues for their behaviors and contributions whenever they see excellence.

What’s your approach to recognition? Only the big things deserve recognition? Or honor progress and the “little things” along the way?

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.

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