Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gratitude--Does it Have to Be Genuine?

After years of a global economy where employers were in the driver's seat telling employees 'you are lucky to have a job!', the pendulum is finally swinging back. Employers are searching for ways to attract and keep dedicated employees." For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses"--and a big part of it is feeling appreciated by the boss. CEO's have spent countless dollars to have an expert tell them that expression of gratitude to staff is a critical component to the overall culture of a company and the success of a boss. Companies are instituting planned initiatives on how to make staff feel appreciated--but does it matter if it is not genuine?

I think so! During the honeymoon stage, almost everything works. People feel more connected, more valued and appreciate the little things done for them to express gratitude, but after a while, they know...they know these actions are planned and required, and soon enough they lose their luster. It's intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. So, how do you show gratitude that is authentic and heartfelt? Like everything else, it begins with a relationship!

Relationships Matter
 You have to know your people. Take the time to get to know your staff and colleagues. What makes them tick? What are their hobbies? Do they have a family? etc. You may not think you have the time for small talk, but those connections are invaluable--they say "you matter". Build a foundation of positive relationships and watch things blossom!

Celebrate them
Gary Chapman says the there are five emotional love languages and how each individual wants to be celebrated can be different. It does not need to be a ones size fits all approach. It's ok to honor and recognize people in a variety of ways, just make sure that its equitable and that you have communicated the idea of individual recognition is advance. Better yet, let them choose. Have different ways that you celebrate people and let them tell you what how they want to be recognized or celebrated.

Have a Heart
"when you can be anything is this world, be kind!" Appreciating your staff and colleagues means that you understand that there will be off times or emergencies that can impact work. Great bosses understand that people are human and cannot always be "on" 100% of the time. Be understanding and see how you can help. Offer to jump in and take something off of their plate or help in other ways. Practice random act of kindness; you will be amazed at how it spreads.

No "I" in Team
Nothing says team like rolling up your sleeves and jumping in! Great bosses are part of the action--and they take an active part in what the staff is doing. Help a colleague with a project or an idea. Volunteer for social and service events. Team work makes the dream work! Work of any kind can be really challenging or at times mundane. Having others participate with positive energy makes all of the difference in the world.

Be Consistent
A one and done approach will not shape a positive culture. Great organizations are consistent with showing gratitude to their staff and colleagues in numerous ways. While the ways in which they express their gratitude may change--and they should, the best organizations continue to celebrate and honor their staff that sends a message that #youmatter!

"A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It Does All Begin With a Relationship!

This past week, I had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with some very dear childhood friends. These fabulous women were celebrating their mother’s 80th birthday. Because we have known one another for over 40 years, we immediately started boasting of our wonderful families and surely lamented about the life’s difficulties--but once we were caught up, we quickly turned our conversation from our families to our chosen professions. Only one of the 6 ladies was a teacher, the others all chose a different path, and I was deeply intrigued about their careers. As I sat and listened to them speak passionately about their craft, I was pleasantly surprised to discover some of life’s lessons that every educator should embrace.  My take-aways from those genuine conversations were the following:
          It does all begin with a relationship. It’s not just a “teacher thing”! My friend, Lori, is a nurse. She passionately talked of the importance of spending a few minutes with her patients to connect and make them feel comfortable. She attributes her success as a nurse to taking the time to get-to-know her patients and treating them with dignity and respect-- always! In the school setting, the same is true; treat every person that you encounter with dignity and respect.

·       Celebrate and honor people! Nancy, the youngest of the bunch, works for a company where she plans events to recognize and publicize the achievements of the employees. They coordinate incredible events to celebrate, highlight and reward people who give it their all. Who doesn’t like to be praised and celebrated? Our schools should be filled with positive celebrations and events to recognize students and staff that reach for excellence!

·       Know when to pull the plug on something not working. Amy is a project manager of a global company and she talked about the importance of research and development. All good ideas need to be explored, tested and improved. When a project wasn’t working, even after countless hours of labor, you have to reflect and decide what to do next—improve, change or pull the plug on it.  In a classroom, this advice would go a long way in improving instruction. Don’t spend inordinate amount of time on something that isn’t working.

·       Be reflective!  Jenny is pursuing a career change and is becoming re-acquainted with the interview process. After so many years being successful in a position, she is confident of her abilities, but in an interview, people only get a glimpse of who you are. It’s important to know your audience and what they are looking for. Be reflective.  Your first impression can make it or break it for you. In the classroom, teachers need to know their audience. They should create opportunities for meaningful learning and make adjustments as necessary. Great teachers continuously reflect on themselves.

·       People are precious! Monica recognizes the importance of producing a finished product, but cautions that working with people is fundamentally different than working with raw materials. People need a human touch—and possibly a different approach. Every person is different and therefore your “process for production” needs to be individualized. The most successful businesses are those who adapt to the needs of the people. In education, we should differentiate instruction and professional development based on individual needs to maximize success.

·       Be Proud of your accomplishments! Chris raised 7 children as a widow. I am certain there were times that she questioned “why me?”, but her faith guided her to move forward and fill her home with positivity and love. Today, she has such a great sense of pride in her accomplishments—her children. Although she quickly points out that her children are very different than her, she wonders at the incredible people that they have become and share in their accomplishments with delight.  As educators, we recognize that we help to shape our students, but their paths may be very different than we imagined. Take joy in knowing that you helped them to become who they are!

It is a breath of fresh air to step outside of the education world and connect with other people who impassioned about their careers. Schools are not a business, but there are many lessons in other professions that can teach us about educating students. Whatever you career path is, these life lessons make the world a better place!

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