At iTS Leadership, we have this wonderful ritual of recognition that kick starts our monthly team meetings: everyone nominates a ‘honk’* to a team member(s) of their choosing, or even to themselves.
It’s a way of acknowledging all the hard work and effort over the past few weeks and sets the scene for the start of a positive meeting. It also enhances the great bond we have as colleagues and friends.
Surprise and delight
We have recently been joined by a new member of the team and, when we asked how she felt leaving her previous position, I was struck by the outpouring of positive messages she received from colleagues on her last day. She shared how touched she was and, in some ways, quite surprised by the comments and level of recognition she received. She likened it to a “living wake!”
Her experience reminded me of my last day in my previous jobs. Like her, I had experienced similar send-offs and was equally surprised at how many people I had positively affected during my time within those companies. At the time, I was grateful for their recognition and very emotional; I was overwhelmed by the feeling of belonging and appreciation.
This got me thinking about WHY I was so surprised. On occasion I had received a “thank you” and acknowledgement from my boss, perhaps for my part in an important project, or from a colleague whom I had helped. At the time, I took pride in knowing my efforts had been noticed. However, how many of us really feel worthy of ‘honks’ of recognition at work, or even at home?
For some, there are positive reasons as to why they are off to pastures new: promotion, change of career direction, maternity, retirement, relocation. However, I know of many ex-colleagues who have left their jobs due to feeling that they could do better elsewhere; they hadn’t got the recognition they felt they deserved and their work wasn’t seen as valuable.
But on their last day, they would generally receive a card, with messages of “good luck”, “you will be missed”, “they will be lucky to have you”. Perhaps a collection had been done and a gift of thanks received. Their manager might even gather colleagues around to hear a speech about what a valued team member they are.
Don’t leave recognition too late
Whilst I feel this is a lovely gesture and I wouldn’t want anyone to leave their job without comment or acknowledgement, I feel equally saddened that such people only truly know and understand their worth on the day they are leaving.
How many unhappy job leavers would stay in their role if they felt their contribution received recognition? Why did they not receive their ‘honks’ during their employment? Were they ever encouraged to offer thanks and recognition to their colleagues too? Probably not.
At iTS Leadership, we encourage leaders to have a positive approach and learn to appreciate the skills and efforts of their teams, where it’s deserved. We also live by this message every day and, on behalf of the team, I would say we feel a closeness and unique working bond, very rarely matched by other companies. Those ‘honks’ are our way of expressing how grateful we are to each other, and ourselves, to truly achieve Profit and Smiles. They don’t have to be massive achievements, sometimes the smallest acts of kindness are those that are most appreciated and should be acknowledged.
*To find out where our ‘honks’ come from, have a look at the video on our homepage and learn more about our logo and our admiration of geese. You can also contact us if you need help to get your teams honking!
After all, iTS Leadership!