Business Magazine

Leaders: Time to Affirm Work Well Done

By Shrinkingthecamel

Leaders: Time to Affirm Work Well DoneLast week I attended an end-of-year corporate Holiday dinner with the management team of a smallish company of which I sit on the Board. As the cocktail hour was winding down and the merry executives and spouses were finally herded to their tables for dinner, the President stood up at the front of the room, cleared his throat and garnered the group’s attention for a few words of welcome.

“As you know, it’s been quite…an interesting year,” he began.

When he said the word, “interesting,” he cocked his head slightly and curled his lips into a “you-know-all-too-well-what-I’m-talking-about” smile. He went on to talk generally of the unexpected obstacles that the company faced – the nightmare issues that were never contemplated when the strategic plan and budget had been set forth way back in the fog of late 2010 – and the cleverness and resilience of the management team who deftly navigated those uncharted waters to successfully reach the other side. For now, at least.

“We fared well, all things considered,” he continued. Then he paused, took a long look around the room, and said, “You should be proud of yourselves for the results we are seeing this year. I hope you will all take a well-deserved time of rest this holiday season.”

This made my heart well up with joy and relief. For two reasons, I think:

  1. Leaders rarely pause any more to take stock of things, much less let their people know they’ve done a great job. Instead, it’s always a message of: more! faster! better! cheaper! trouble is surely following you with a giant sickle to chop your head off! and so on. But look, everyone knows this already, don’t they? Your people are faithfully slogging their way through the middle of it, for goodness sake. What they don’t know is that the leader sees and appreciates their work. It was so nice to hear a small word of appreciation.
  2. The words “well-deserved rest” have got to be the most powerful three words in contemporary leadership lexicon, capable of lifting hearts and spirits into the clouds. Sadly, I’ve only heard this strange term coming in my direction maybe just two or three times during my entire career. Yet this affirmation is so fundamental to our cycles of productivity, self-esteem and motivation. There is something so whole, so liberating, so complimentary to the human spirit when we are told to take a ”Well Deserved Rest.” It speaks not only to the value of hard work, but also to the value of the person doing the work. There’s no need to wait until we’re dead to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” How about a couple check-points along the way?

So stop whatever you are doing and take a long look around the room. Tell your team that they’ve done a great job this year, that they should be proud of themselves, and they deserve a good rest. And then, nothing.  Let’s just savor the acknowledgement of work well done.

It will lift your team about ten feet off the ground.

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