We spend most of the time interacting with our colleagues, or “work family” as I like to call it. Like all families, we go through ups and downs, and everything in between, together. Everyone is going to have good and bad days when trying to do their best work possible—we’re human after all! Early on in my career, I realized that having professionalism does not require foregoing your personality—that you can support and encourage your team members while remaining professional.
I have always enjoyed helping colleagues and peers feel appreciated through small acts of kindness. When a team feels connected, understood, and tied together in a common mission, peak performance is sure to follow.
Here are five ways to show your team members that you appreciate them.
1. Find Out How Your Colleagues Like To Be Appreciated
Everyone feels appreciation differently. Some people enjoy verbal praise in front of a group, others like a handwritten note they can experience privately. Personally, my favorite iced coffee as a surprise will make me tear up with joy. The first step to appreciating others is asking them what they like. Sending out a brief e-mail survey asking about their favorite treats is an excellent start to getting to know what your team enjoys!
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2. Start Small
Everyone is crazy busy with deadlines and their life outside of work. You might be thinking, who has the time to find ways to show appreciation for my team? I have found myself wanting to do something for my colleagues and then dropping the idea because a week got too hectic. But you can show appreciation without taking up too much time.
Start with an e-mail that points out something you admire about your colleague. With all the e-mails we send and receive in a day, it is nice to have something that makes us smile and lifts our spirits. I keep an e-mail folder labeled “sunshine” and move all of my nice comments from colleagues and clients into it, so I can revisit them periodically.
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3. Sometimes It’s In the Details
I am a sucker for donuts in the office; they are my favorite treat! I’ve worked with many colleagues that have varying diet needs who can’t always enjoy the same treats as the rest of the team. This is where tip #1 on this list comes in handy. Checking back with the survey or e-mail to see what your team members like as a treat can be a welcome surprise for someone who often feels left out. I also try to keep a note I am continually editing when I notice a colleague has been bringing in a new kind of snack they are raving about.
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4. Appreciate With More Than Food
Can you tell that I feel the most appreciated through food? Everyone is different, and not everyone feels appreciated through his or her stomachs. Something my team is great at is thoughtful cards, flowers, and gifts. I happen to love all things Harry Potter, so for my birthday my team gave me a Golden Snitch clock, it was the sweetest gift! I had another management team give me Jane Austen socks and a coloring book because they knew she was my favorite author. It can be small, like a magnet with a quote from their favorite author or fun-shaped post-it notes, no matter what your colleagues will feel the appreciation because you took the time and thought to customize to their preferences.
5. Appreciation Is Free
Sometimes we don’t have the extra room in our budgets for staff appreciation. This is where we can use creativity to share our gratitude! I am a massive fan of flipchart paper and markers to make a hopeful sign for someone. I once made a co-worker a giant vase of flowers out of flipchart paper that they kept on their desk for a few weeks. In the end, it’s taking the time and thought to reach out to your colleagues with a card, food or just taking a moment to tell them, I appreciate you.
Taking the time to appreciate who your colleagues are and all they contribute to your team is an excellent way to build collaboration. Smiling and happiness are contagious, help make it part of your team.
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