“I Need to Hear Some Encouragement Today….”
Last month I was shopping at the mall searching for some gift ideas for a newborn baby. I thought I would check out one of the large chain stores first and then look at some smaller, specialty stores. I’m the type of shopper who likes to investigate all areas of a store observing the displays, merchandise and who is shopping and who is serving (this is the retail side of me). At the end of an aisle I focused on one of the employees who was down on her knees rearranging items on the bottom shelf. With her head buried in the shelf I gently asked if she could assist me in finding the perfect, cuddliest, furriest plush bear or rabbit they had. As she swung her head to face me and offer assistance, I could not help but notice the large sign that was hanging from her neck which read, “I need to hear some encouragement today from my manager!”
After a couple minutes had passed and really not finding the perfect plush I decided to leave and look in other stores. I proceeded to exit through one of the open cash lanes and exchanged glances with the cashier. I smiled and noticed a large sign hanging from his neck which read, “I don’t know why I try anymore! It doesn’t seem to matter what I do around here!”
What Signs Are Worn By Your Colleagues?
Have you ever noticed any of your work colleagues or people you volunteer with wearing similar signs around their necks? I remember seeing signs that read, “I’m ready to burn out” and “I don’t care about the money anymore, I just want some respect and small doses of encouragement once in awhile!” (I may have worn these myself). Of course, nobody wears these “external signs” to work (if your work environment does, I’d love to know!). Sometimes we need to play detective and carry a magnifying glass to help us focus on some of the obvious and not so obvious clues that appreciation is urgently needed.
Clues to Look For
Discouragement: It may be that someone is simply discouraged and just feels like giving up. The dictionary defines it as deprived of courage, hope or confidence. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, writes that the four main causes of discouragement are fatigue, frustration, failure and fear. Rick suggests to “resist the discouragement by fighting back! Discouragement is a choice. If you feel discouraged, it’s because you’ve chosen to feel that way. No one is forcing you to feel bad. Do what’s right in spite of your feelings. No feeling lasts forever.” While these are all great solutions we can take timely steps towards demonstrating genuine appreciation to our colleagues regardless of their role or position.
Tardiness and Illness: Another clue that appreciation is needed is when gradually over time an employee arrives late or calls in sick more often than normal. I can recall working with someone who was never sick and was always prompt for their shift. One day she arrived late and told me there seems to be more and more traffic on the road. This sounds very possible and acceptable however, she lived 5 minutes away. It started happened once a week then twice in a week. I knew there was something wrong.
Sarcasm: At one time or another we have all worked with a bubbly, positive, nothing can go wrong in your life person. Until one day you come face-to-face with Jekyll and Hyde! Why all of a sudden does this same person spew out words with a condescending attitude? Sarcasm, as psychologist Dr. Paul White explains is “subtly communicating anger and a lack of trust.”
Negative Work Environment
Negative Work Environment: A friend of mine was recently transferred to a new facility and told me you could cut the tension with a knife! No one is getting along. Managers and supervisors instructions are being ignored. Many are saying, “If they ask me to do one more thing I’m walking!” Although my friend just walked into this environment he wants to run in the opposite direction! Ask yourself this question: Are you one of these people? Are you fun to be around if this is you? Do you carry this home with you? Walk around the office, warehouse or sales floor and look for any clues or signs mentioned above. This may indicate that some appreciation is needed. It could also indicate there may be other issues which require immediate attention.
If you don’t see any signs then congratulations! You work in an environment where the culture is very positive and encouraging. Should it slide every so often remember to keep an eye out for clues that could uncover opportunities to engage with your employees. Encourage someone today. Yes, right now!