Several studies have concluded that employees are not motivated to do great work and stay loyal by extrinsic motivators like money or annual cash bonuses. Being generous and showing gratitude tap into the intrinsic motivators that we have been developing all of our lives, the ones that feel good because they accommodate our core values. The following list contains a few ideas on how to be generous with your time, your gratitude, and your skills to create and instill a culture of kindness:
- If you see someone struggling, offer to help them. All too often we are struggling with our own stress- es and time crunches, which is the reason this act packs a lot of punch.
- Offer handwritten notes of recognition. The time spent getting a card and writing it out makes a lasting impression.Be generous with praise. Have you heard about the five-to-
- one rule? It is a fundamental rule for parents, teachers, and businesses. Harvard Business School says that top performing teams are ones that give each other more than five positive comments for every critical one.9
- Be a mentor and share your knowledge. In our highly competitive world, we tend to keep our cards close to our chests. We don’t want to share what we have spent our hard years learning and “give it away for free.” But in the long run, helping someone by offering wisdom and insights (solicit- ed, of course) will instigate the upward reciprocity that makes business thrive. It also eliminates the rivalry between colleagues that can make an environment toxic.
- Publicly acknowledge your gratitude. Whether through an appreciation program, monthly announcements, or by bragging about your employees to customers and clients, public acknowledgment feels good.
- Individualize. In Siblings Without Rivalry the authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish talk about the importance of individual attention, praise, and rewards. To do the same for children and treat them “equally” actually backfires.10 This is the same in business. If you want people to know they have value and their contributions are important, the praise and recognition you offer must be tailored and suited to their unique personalities, character, and needs, or else they’ll feel unnoticed. Individualized attention is the difference between people perceiving your praise as hot air or as a motivator that, over time, will bring returns to everyone.