Good leaders know that taking care of their employees leads to increased worker performance, according to Craig Jarrow, who blogs on time management. Happy employees work harder. They take ownership and go the extra mile. They stay with your charity longer.
Of course, happiness isn’t the only ingredient you need for high productivity. It also takes leadership, purpose and drive, Jarrow acknowledges. But whatever the leadership situation, research finds that happy people outperform unhappy ones. The good news is that as a leader or team manager, you can contribute to your team’s happiness even when you can’t control resources, strategic direction, or the messages from higher-ups.
Here are some low-cost, high-impact, memorable ways to reward staff and express your appreciation.
What a concept! But as fundraisers, we sometimes get so focused on saying “thank you” to donors that we forget to say it to one another. Show your staff some of the same appreciation you share with donors and volunteers, and you’ll see a big difference in their outlook.
Find ways to recognize your best employees and reward them with something that’s meaningful to them. Just make sure your policies on appreciation are fair and transparent, aimed at results and contributions rather than personalities.
Listen to them
People need to be heard. Just listening to them tells them that you value their experience and opinions. As a leader, your job is not to have the answers, but to find the answers. Sometimes you’ll find them in the brains of your team members.
Tell them the truth
This can be difficult, especially when things aren’t going well. But telling everyone the same thing at the same time is one of the most respectful things you can do. So is using clear, plain language rather than hiding behind legalese and corporate jargon.
In my own experience, I’ve found that if you don’t give people the information they want in times of crisis, they’ll make up information based on their own fears and incomplete observations. Then they’ll spread it, pre-empting and muddying any message you may eventually be forced to give. So do yourself as well as your team a favour. Tell the truth from the beginning.
Give them a day off
Monetary incentives and gifts aren’t the only meaningful rewards, Jarrow reminds us. Time off can be an even greater gift, and help the employee recharge.
Get rid of the rules, procedures, policies and conditions that keep people from doing their jobs well. That’s one of your jobs as a leader. You’ll also remove the excuses for poor performance.
Recognition, support and gratitude – a powerful package that doesn’t have to cost much, but brings huge rewards in terms of staff productivity and cost.
And when you think about it, if those qualities are part of your brand, shouldn’t they begin at home, right there in the office?