If you are a leader in a church, business, or organization, you likely understand the need to affirm your employees and volunteers. It is critically important. It lets them know you care about them and that they matter to you, that they are making a difference on your team.
How it looks will vary based on the specific circumstances of your situation. Yet, there are some general guiding principles that I suggest should inform the use of affirmation in your context to such an extent that it transforms the DNA of your team culture.
- Keep it real. When appropriate take the opportunity to publicly point out specific legitimate accomplishments by team members. Celebrate with them. Honor them. This can be done annually with a view toward honoring various people, and it can be done as needed to celebrate special occasions. Be factual and do not overstate the accomplishment, yet make sure that proper respect is given in keeping with what has occurred.
- Listen. When a staff member expresses a concern in the form of respectful constructive criticism, listen. Take notes. Dispatch personnel (or do it yourself if it is feasible) to investigate options and, if necessary, take the needed steps toward a positive solution which corrects any problems. At the very least, just listening to the concern will give your team member a sense of affirmation, as if she is being heard. Not listening will earn you a reputation for unapproachability, which is something you do not want to have happen as it has a way of gaining its own viral public momentum.
- Culture. Create a culture of affirmation through consistent seasonal celebrations of each other, and a climate of mutual respect. That is, execute steps one and two as if they were part of your collective DNA. In so doing, you will develop a corresponding culture of sincere affirmation which produces happy, productive, loyal, and creative team members.