The Tool Belt Generation: Revitalizing Our Workforce, One Trade at a Time

In today’s workforce, a new generation is adapting their skills to meet the demands of a changing job market. With the rising cost of college education, Gen Z is finding alternative career paths, turning to trades such as construction, mechanics and electronics. This shift is creating a new wave of young professionals who are choosing practical skills over the traditional college route.

Choosing Between Traditional Paths: Desks or Debts?
Students and their families financing their college education face a tough choice: start their career in massive debt or forgo a four year degree. Many high school students today are questioning the return on investment on a university education, if it includes paying back hefty loans for decades.
The Tool Belt Generation refers to a growing group of young professionals choosing vocational careers over traditional college degrees. They are empowered by working with their hands and seeing tangible results, unlike the often abstract results of office jobs. Lisa Countryman-Quiroz, CEO of JVS in San Francisco, notes that after decades of people seeing college as a path to middle class, there’s a rising interest in skilled trades among Gen Z due to the growing cost of college. On the flip side, many skilled trade jobs can be started right after high school with pay often above the average national salary.
It goes beyond just money. Many are drawn to the hands-on aspect of trade jobs. There’s a deep satisfaction in building, fixing, or making something tangible. This desire to create and contribute in a visible way is something that more abstract jobs can’t always provide.

Addressing the Skilled Worker Shortage

There’s a significant gap in the job market right now, with many positions going unfilled because there aren’t enough workers with the necessary skills. This shortage is a big problem for industries that need skilled labor to innovate and attract new talent. The demand for skilled workers is so high that both government and private companies are offering special incentives to encourage people to enter these fields.

Perks for the Next Generation of Skilled Workers
From help with tuition to high salaries, the benefits for those entering skilled trades are getting better and more competitive. The increase in incentives is a smart move to meet the urgent need for skilled workers. Businesses are realizing how crucial these workers are to economic growth and workforce development, with some industries offering their own paid apprenticeship programs.
Alongside financial incentives, the government has introduced programs designed to prepare the next generation with the necessary skills to strengthen the workforce. Efforts like apprenticeships and grants for technical education are aimed at developing a new generation of craftsmen, electricians, and plumbers – essential roles for any society to function properly.

Employers and the Craftsman Resurgence
For employers, the return of skilled craftsmen is great news. These professionals bring new life to sectors struggling with an aging workforce. By meeting the preferences of this new generation, companies can align their operations with the fresh talent of the future.
It’s crucial for employers to understand what the Tool Belt Generation wants. Job satisfaction is a big motivation for those entering skilled trades. The old ways of working are making way for more flexible, tech-savvy environments that appeal to them. Finding the right mix of traditional and modern work practices is essential for creating a happy and skilled workforce.

The Takeaway
The story of the Tool Belt Generation is still unfolding, marked by innovation and the creation of value. As career paths evolve and passions are rediscovered, the shift in more high school students choosing trade programs instead of a four year university education will help solve job shortages in industries eager for young talent. It may take longer for societal attitudes to catch up to the employment trend, but those selecting skilled labor deserve encouragement and recognition for forging a ‘new normal’ for generations to come.

Maximizing Your Influence in the Workplace: Strategies from Communication Expert Matt Abrahams

In the rapid and competitive nature of today’s work environment, possessing the skills to influence others, make decisive choices, and steer projects to success has never been more crucial. Matt Abrahams, a communications expert, Stanford professor, and the author of Think Faster, Talk Smarter, provides insightful advice for making an impact in the workplace. Read on to discover three of his most effective strategies to excel professionally.

The Foundation
The foundation for becoming more influential at work begins with communication. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Using engaging storytelling can help connect with others on a deeper level, making your ideas stick. Also, pausing when you speak can make your words more impactful, letting your message sink in. Perhaps the most important communication technique at work is being a good listener. And it’s not always easy to do. According to Abrahams, “The core of this idea is to shift your focus away from yourself, and onto whoever you’re addressing. Focus on listening over speaking, asking more questions, and using less formal language.”

Three Practical Strategies for Becoming Influential at Work
In an interview with CNBC, Abrahams also outlines practical strategies that boost influence at work. The first step is to increase your workplace influence: be known for your reliability and expertise. Abrahams calls this a “leverage point.” In a practical sense, this means looking for gaps in productivity or even tasks that others dread that you are willing to take on, such as note-taking in meetings or helping make social media posts. It’s important you don’t take on more than you can do well because the consistency and quality of your work is one of the ways you’ll develop a positive reputation. Also, being the go-to expert in your field, even if it is outside of your current job description, will boost your value and influence in the organization.

The second step is to build a wide network of relationships at work or allies. This includes people outside your immediate team or department. Understanding different viewpoints and having allies in various parts of the company can boost your influence, especially when you need support for projects or during changes. Abrahams points out that it is important that your efforts be authentic, not transactional. The goal is to build real relationships with people who you discover you have things in common with or think in a similar way as you do. It is also a great way to practice Abrahams foundational advice around listening and asking questions.
Lastly, staying positive and resilient in the face of challenges can uplift others and increase your influence. Abrahams emphasizes building up others or ‘amplifying’ their ideas. No one likes it when their ideas do not receive due credit, and when you name drop that you and another colleague have an idea or solution, you demonstrate trust, collaboration, and the willingness to speak up. You also earn credibility with your co-workers. Being seen as a source of positivity and determination can encourage others to follow your lead and support your projects. Like building alliances, it is essential your efforts be done in good faith, not in an artificial way. Avoid this pitfall, by working on problems that really excite you and collaborating with teammates who inspire your own thinking.

The Takeaway
To boost your workplace influence, focus on clear communication, becoming a trusted expert, forming real connections, and staying positive and resilient. Using Matt Abrahams’ tips can help you shine professionally and become a key player in your organization. The secret is real interactions, ongoing self-improvement, and helping others rise with you. Adopt these approaches to effectively handle today’s work challenges and inspire others.

9 Essential Retail Marketing Strategies for 2024

In an era where e-commerce giants seem to be taking over, the significance of brick-and-mortar retail can’t be overlooked. Generational preferences, along with the 24/7 convenience of online shopping, account for much of the differences between online buying habits compared to in- store. Still, many consumers note that the experience of wandering through a physical store, interacting with products, and the ability to get instant gratification are all part of the advantage of visiting a store. To contend with the digital wave and give shoppers the in-person experience many crave, small businesses owners can grow and compete when they embrace proven retail marketing strategies.

Navigating the New Norm
The playbook for retail marketing has undeniably changed and adopting a forward-leaning strategy is not just an option, but a necessity. Here are nine strategies that retailers can employ to ensure their marketing efforts capture the attention of consumers in 2024 and beyond.

1. Ensure Accurate and Updated Online Information
Consumers often start their search online, making it crucial for retail stores to have a detailed and up-to-date online presence. Optimizing your Google Business Profile, maintaining current website information, and ensuring location details are accurate is essential. Customers trust businesses that are easily found and provide accurate information readily.

2. The Art of Sales and Loss Leaders
Using strategic sales and loss leaders effectively draws customers to your store. Sales tied to seasons or special occasions create urgency and boost foot traffic. Loss leaders, though they may reduce profit margins, highlight your product range, encouraging more purchases. Also, with more in-store traffic, you have the advantage to sell complimentary products and add-ons.

3. Window Dressing that Sells
Your store’s window display is your first chance to catch a customer’s interest before they enter. Keep it fresh and seasonal. A captivating window display that tells a story or highlights your top products can grab the attention of passersby and encourage them to come inside.

4. Digitally Curated Catalog
A digital catalog available in-store and online is a cost-effective method to expand your inventory and display options. It lets customers explore your entire product range from home, a smart strategy considering that up to 81% of shoppers research products online before buying in the store.

5. Offer a Unique Shopping Experience
In a competitive market, a unique store experience keeps customers returning. This can include personalized services, local events, special touches such as tea or coffee, a great playlist, or even technological advancements provided by self checkouts.

6. Invest in Staff Training
Your employees are the face of your business and play a crucial role in shaping customer experiences. Consistent training equips them with the knowledge and skills to provide outstanding service, fostering genuine connections in a digital landscape. This not only enhances customer loyalty but also positions your brand as a trusted source of expert advice through increased product awareness.

7. Ramp Up Social Media Brand Awareness
Social media isn’t just for making friends; it’s key for boosting brand visibility and engaging customers. Leverage Instagram and Facebook to share your brand’s narrative, highlight products, and chat with your audience. Harness user-generated content, creative narratives, and regular posts to keep your brand in the spotlight. Check out HubSpot’s guide on utilizing social media to build better brand awareness.

8. Value Returning Customers with Loyalty Programs
Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any retail business. Implementing a customer loyalty program rewards repeat business and encourages future purchases. Personalized discounts, exclusive offers, and surprise gifts are all ways to delight your regulars and ensure they keep coming back.

9. Email Marketing – The Old Dog with New Tricks
Email marketing is highly effective for reaching your customers. If you’re not collecting emails from customers, you’re missing out. Email marketing ensures you always have a way to contact your customers for sales, promotions, new products, events, and more. And by segmenting your email list, you can customize offers based on customer preferences and behaviors. Add value through discounts, useful tips, or exclusive insights to keep subscribers engaged and eager for your next email.

The Roundup: Integrating Online and Offline Efforts
Looking at these strategies, it’s clear that a digital presence and integrating online and offline experiences are crucial. Marketers who combine online efficiency with the sensory experiences of physical stores will likely succeed. Essentially, retail marketing in 2024 requires a balanced mix of in-store and digital strategies. By blending both, retailers can create a compelling customer experience that’s unique. At its core, retail marketing focuses on understanding and serving the customer, which is key to a thriving retail business.

Jocko Willink explains that extreme ownership is more than a strategy; it’s a mindset shift that changes how we see leadership. Willink, a highly decorated former Navy SEAL officer and bestselling author of Extreme Ownership, recounts a harrowing incident from Ramadi, Iraq, in his 2017 TedTalk. This incident involved a tragic case of friendly fire, where allied forces mistakenly engaged each other. Despite several factors being beyond his control, Willink, as the SEAL team commander, assumed full responsibility for the travesty. He leverages this experience as a powerful metaphor to underscore the critical importance of leaders embracing complete accountability for their team’s failures and successes alike. Surprisingly, this approach significantly enhances respect among team members and fosters a culture of effective problem-solving that is unattainable when leaders shy away from ownership. Ultimately, Willink demonstrates that these military skills can be adapted for business to tackle challenges, make bold decisions, and lead with confidence.

Accountability Boosts Trust
The extreme ownership philosophy centers on the belief that true leaders own up to both their failures and successes. Willink, who supports this idea, says real leaders don’t shift blame or avoid responsibility. They fully accept their mistakes, use them as chances to learn, and build on these lessons for future wins. Leaders who embrace this approach show their true character and strength, creating a trustworthy and accountable atmosphere. This mindset leads to better communication within teams and fosters a culture aimed at constant improvement. Such an environment not only pushes individuals to excel but also helps the whole organization reach its goals more effectively. Research from Deloitte has shown that high-performing leaders demonstrate a growth mindset, understanding that failure is a part of development. When leaders own their mistakes, they show their humanity and willingness to learn from errors.

How to Role Model High Standards
The concept of extreme ownership is all about setting high standards and leading by example. It means expecting the best from your team and showing them how it’s done through your actions. Leaders who adopt these principles create an environment that values problem solving and a strong commitment to achieving goals with precision and excellence. This kind of leadership pushes teams to exceed their preconceived limits, making sure everyone knows their role and works hard for collective success. In the fast-paced world of operating a business and managing employees, leaders can overlook their own development. The kind of accountability Willink promotes comes from leaders who are highly self-aware. Professional leadership development, in addition to personal practices such as a morning routine or time off, ensures leaders are rested and ready to lead.

The Takeaway
Switching to extreme ownership can greatly enhance team and business performance. It requires leaders to be more proactive, accountable, and committed to truly developing and empowering their team members. This approach is hands-on, with leaders setting the pace and encouraging their teams to reach high. Extreme ownership also means building trust and transparency, treating mistakes as lessons, and finding success together.

The New Tipping Culture and the Effects on Consumer Behavior & Business

Here’s a familiar dilemma: you walk into your favorite local coffee shop, grab a latte, and as you’re about to pay the screen prompts you: “Add a tip?” This scenario has become a staple in our modern lives, reflecting a new tipping culture that often leaves more questions than cash in the jar. So, what’s behind the shift in gratuity habits and what does this mean for businesses and workers who rely on tips?

Tipping Fatigue is Real
Tipping, traditionally a token of gratitude or satisfaction towards service, has recently experienced some culture shocks. It’s now common practice to be prompted to tip before the service has been rendered or even in an online transaction that involves zero human interaction. As tipping opportunities multiply, our readiness to tip has, paradoxically, dwindled. While tipping 20% remains the standard in full-service restaurants, in 2023 Toast’s restaurant trends report found that the average tip had dropped to 19.4%.

Business experts believe much of our reluctance stems from confusion. In the not-so-distant past the relationship between service and tip was clear. But when we fast forward to the present, when counter service comes with payment technology and tip suggestions, consumers are stuck wondering not only how much but if they should tip at all. And as inflation continues to challenge pocketbooks, some consumers are feeling tapped out.
Economists argue that tipping isn’t simply a debate between stinginess and generosity. Inflation has transformed gratuity habits into less of a social act and more of a financial one. The problem is some workers rely on tips to make up for lower wages, so tipping fatigue can have a very negative effect on certain professions, such as table servers, hair stylists, and drivers.

The Most Helpful Business Strategy: Transparency

One solution to tipping fatigue is to educate consumers on how workers get paid. According to Dr. Jaime Peters, assistant dean and assistant professor of finance at Maryville University, if someone has agreed to work for a lower wage because tips make up the difference, people should consider this in their tipping habits. How much should you tip at a digital kiosk? That depends on who you ask. For excellent service, Dr. Peters suggests 10-12 percent, while others believe that it’s the same as a tip jar and should be considered optional.

Businesses that do choose automated tipping prompts for counter service should be advised that some consumers feel ‘emotional blackmailed’ by a 20-30% prompt for a cup of coffee. Others consider the technological nudge even more nefarious, with questions around who exactly receives the gratuity–workers or the business? Consumer experts advise businesses to communicate their tipping policies clearly, so their patrons feel informed about their invitation to leave extra.
Alternatively, some businesses have chosen to increase the prices on their menu and forgo tips altogether, to provide higher wages and benefits. This practice makes the cost of doing business more transparent for consumers, who agree to pay more upfront knowing that they’ll be tipping less when it’s time to settle up. Other restaurants like Kachka, in Portland, Oregon, announced a new wage equity plan in 2022, with a 22% service charge instead of tips for diners, along with free healthcare for employees and a profit-sharing model. While Kachka’s tipping policy insists on the surcharge, which some customers won’t like, their transparency helps diners understand what happens to the money.

The Takeaway
With the rise of technology and shifting consumer attitudes, the act of tipping has become more complex and confusing. While some consumers feel tapped out and uncertain about when and how much to tip, it is important to consider the impact on workers who rely on gratuities to supplement their wages. Businesses can play a role in addressing this issue by educating consumers, communicating tipping policies clearly, or exploring alternative models that prioritize fair wages. Ultimately, finding a balance between customer satisfaction and worker well-being is crucial in shaping the future of service-based businesses.

Break the Ice, Break the Stress: Making Remote Meetings Fun

You know the drill. Click “join meeting,” watch the webcam flicker on, and hope the faces you’re staring at feel more enthusiastic than you. How is it that 87% of workers report wanting work-from-home flexibility yet most of us dread virtual meetings?
And what’s the cost of boring meetings? Employee disengagement, lost productivity, and poor workplace satisfaction. In other words, there’s reason to want a better virtual meeting experience. The good news is that you can trade your underwhelming Zoom calls for something more fun and engaging. The catch? It might feel a little awkward at first. Read on to learn more about using humor to lighten the mood and how to make the most of your virtual meetings.

Tackling Virtual Meeting Awkwardness Head-On
It’s fascinating how we can transmit faces wirelessly across the globe in real-time, yet we still face challenges in effectively managing conversations during Zoom calls. Additionally, there are moments of profound silence during virtual meetings when the boss requests feedback, and the only response is the echoing void of cyberspace.
But here’s the kicker: It’s not your fault, or even your Wi-Fi’s. Experts tell us that we’re missing out on the super subtle body language and energy vibes that normally happen in person.

The Secret Sauce: Humor and Icebreakers
So, what’s the secret sauce to shaking the stiffness and building a virtual campfire of team camaraderie? According to one professional meeting facilitator, it’s asking attendees an honest question: “What are you wearing on your feet?”
This probably sounds a little crazy, but it’s been shown to work. Why? Because everyone can laugh about the reality of at-home meetings. Some may be dressed from head to toe, others may be barefoot or wearing slippers. And there’s always someone in oddball socks or unexplainable footwear. As it turns out, laughter is more than fun. It’s been scientifically shown to increase team performance.

The Science of Sensible Silliness
Our brains are naturally inclined to relax and foster creativity in the presence of humor. Laughing can be likened to a form of mental exercise for the prefrontal cortex. A calm mind resembles that of a jazz musician—improvising, riffing, and conjuring creative wonders. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t prefer a meeting that exudes the ambiance of a jazz club rather than a dental waiting room?
Supporting this notion, scientific findings suggest that leaders who sprinkle humor into their interactions possess remarkable qualities—motivating, engaging, and even transforming mundane tasks like the quarterly budget review into a more enjoyable experience.

Real Talk: Know Your Audience
A note on cracking jokes: Jackie Colburn, the creator of the footwear icebreaker, reminds us to always consider timing and audience. The idea is to build rapport, so ensuring your icebreaker is appropriate and doesn’t create unnecessary discomfort is crucial. If the group has a relaxed atmosphere and everyone is comfortable with one another, feel free to initiate a conversation and observe how your team responds.

Wrap it Up, Ringmaster!
Next time you’re preparing for another remote meeting, why not start with a touch of inquisitiveness about their choice of shoes (or no shoes)? It could be the lighthearted push your team needs to foster connections, encourage creativity, and energize collaboration.
Until then, keep your meetings engaging, and remember: work is important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves along the way.

What’s motivating your employees?

It turns out that workers want a lot more than a paycheck and job flexibility. In fact, some of what they want is rooted in personality and workplace psychology.
Workplace personalities can be broken down into four distinct types of workers. Understanding the different types of workers and what motivates them can lead to greater job satisfaction and a better fit between employer and employee.

4 Types of Workplace Personalities

Go-Getters
Go-getters make up the smallest group of workers, but they are also the most likely to be satisfied with their jobs. This group is motivated by challenge and opportunity; they want to continuously improve their skills and grow within their companies. For employers, this means providing go-getters with opportunities to take on challenges and learn new skills.
Many go-getters are also what Psychology Today contributor Melody Wilding, a professor of Human Behavior, refers to as a “sensitive striver.” While this type gives 100% to their job, they also process information and emotions on a deep level. This combination is part of what makes them top talent, but it can also lead to burnout. Managers attuned to the stress of high achievers can help them translate their efforts into success rather than self-sabotage.

Loyalists
Loyalists are devoted to their employers and place a high value on stability. They are motivated by predictability and routine and prefer to stick with what they know. In the present economy, employers would be unwise to rely too much on loyalists to stick around if the work environment is poor or pay is not competitive. Still, understanding what motivates loyalists can help companies serve this personality type better.
Employers can improve worker satisfaction for this group when they focus on stability and predictability in their jobs. Additionally, loyalists are often looking for opportunities to move up within their companies, so employers should provide clear paths for advancement.

Career Builders
Career builders are similar to go-getters in that they are motivated by challenge and opportunity. However, unlike go-getters who are looking to grow within their current companies, career builders are always on the lookout for new opportunities—even if that means changing jobs.
For employers, this means offering career builders challenging work assignments as well as opportunities for growth within the company. According to Forbes’ contributor and workplace consultant Heidi Lynn Kurter, the Great Resignation could have been avoided by tending to the needs of career builders.
What motivates them? Here’s what Kurter says tops the list: compensation and pay transparency, job flexibility, a positive work culture, and inclusive policies ranging from dealing with loss to infertility.

Lifers
Lifers make up the largest group of workers and are defined by their loyalty to their companies. Like loyalists, lifers place a high value on stability and predictability. However, unlike loyalists who are interested in moving up within their companies, lifers are content with remaining in their current positions for the long haul.
For employers, this means offering lifers stable, long-term positions. Staying with a company for your whole career isn’t as common as it once was, and employers shouldn’t take this type for granted. It’s important that employers recognize that lifers also have external opportunities and are choosing to stay with the company at many different points along the course of their career. Make sure lifers feel connected to the company mission and provide them with opportunities to build meaningful relationships with coworkers and superiors.

No Such Thing as an Average Employee
Above all else, it’s important to remember that not every person is wired the same. Understanding what motivates employees benefits everyone. It helps workers find meaning in what they do, and it helps employers invest wisely in hiring and retaining employees who can contribute to a strong company culture.

Boost Your Business: 3 Powerful Marketing Strategies for Small Business

As a small business owner, you may often juggle the demands of running your business and effectively marketing it. But attracting new customers, nurturing existing relationships, and building loyalty doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this article, we will explore three powerful marketing strategies that can boost your business while keeping your sanity and budget intact.

Understand Your Customer
Before developing any marketing plan, it is crucial to understand your target audience. The better you know your customer, the better you can tailor your messaging and offerings to meet their needs. Use these simple questions to help form a customer profile.
• Who is your ideal customer?
• What motivates them?
• What pain points are they trying to solve?

To gain this understanding, you can use your experience as the business owner. However, if you want more precise data, market research tools can help. For example, you can survey your existing customers to learn more about their behaviors, preferences, and satisfaction levels. Pay special attention to how they discovered your business and whether they are local or come from a farther distance. This data can help you target your marketing geographically, in addition to understanding the impact of advertising versus customer word-of-mouth.

Conducting competitor analysis is another way of learning more about what offers are working or what services might be missing for your prospective customer base. Hubspot offers a helpful guide to small business owners looking to learn more about their competition. Lastly, make sure you have completed a free business profile with Google, so you are able to monitor online metrics like website traffic and customer behavior through Google Analytics. With this information, you can develop a customer persona that will help guide your marketing efforts.

Partner with Other Businesses
Collaborating with other businesses that share your values and target audience can be an excellent way to reach new customers. For example, you can team up with a complimentary business to host an event or create a joint promotion. This can help to amplify your message and attract new customers who have yet to discover your business.
If your business has a physical location, consider collaborating with other businesses on the block. In a small shopping district in Portland, Oregon, businesses collaborate during the holiday season with a ‘golden ticket’ promotion. The concept rewards customers by giving them a golden ticket that can be used at partner stores in the shopping district. By gamifying holiday shopping and role modeling reciprocity, the business community has tapped into some known consumer behaviors: customers like to have fun and feel good about their purchases.

Offer Incentives and Rewards
People love rewards and incentives, as seen in the golden ticket example. Offering a discount or loyalty program can be an effective way to encourage repeat business. Additionally, if you have a referral program, you can encourage your satisfied customers to spread the word about your business to their friends and family. If starting a loyalty program feels daunting, check out Indeed’s framework which includes five steps to help create your own loyalty or referral program.
Long-term programs are great, but don’t miss the opportunity to wow first-time customers who may be exploring your business or comparing you to a customer. Offer tantalizing promotions, discounts, or bonus items for minimum purchases. And remember: it’s great to be generous, but make sure the math works out in your favor. NerdWallet advises weighing specific risks and benefits of your promotion to prioritize profitability.

Keep it Simple
You don’t have to do everything at once. Simply try one strategy at a time and see what works. As you learn more about your customer, partner with compatriot businesses, and offer strategic incentives and rewards, you will be on your way to building a loyal base of customers.

Ignite and Empower Your Team with Verbal Feedback

Verbal feedback is a great way for bosses and team leaders to demonstrate their appreciation and encourage their employees. When used correctly, this kind of feedback not only boosts morale but also creates an atmosphere where employees feel valued, respected, and encouraged. If using words to affirm your employees does not come naturally to you, you are not alone. The good news is that giving verbal feedback is a skill you can develop over time that will benefit you as a leader and everyone around you. Read on to learn more about when to give positive feedback and what to say to open hearts and minds.

Praise Achievements
Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done, and your employees are no different. If someone has done an outstanding job on a project, acknowledge their effort and outcome. Praise is especially meaningful when workers have encountered unforeseen obstacles, difficult clients, or delays. When it comes to what to say, be specific. Inc. contributor and founder of Leadership from the Core, Marcel Schwantes provides these inspirational examples:
“I understand that analyzing the vast amount of data for our presentation was a difficult and time-consuming task. You did a remarkable job interpreting the results in a way everyone could comprehend.”
“I cannot express how much your extra mentoring efforts for the new employees have impacted the entire team. They were able to hit the ground running quickly due to your help during their crucial first three months with the company. The whole team has exceeded its productivity as a result.”

Commend the Person, not Just the Performance
Recognition is essential and can be given in a variety of ways. Bonuses, raises, and promotions are all ways to recognize someone’s exceptional performance, but surprisingly they can leave some employees feeling less satisfied with their jobs. According to research conducted by the London School of Economics, financial rewards can actually have a negative impact when it comes to motivating employees. An analysis of 51 experiments showed that monetary compensation may reduce an individual’s drive to accomplish a task, as well as diminish their enjoyment of doing so.

An exciting aspect of positive feedback is that it motivates individuals differently.
According to Harvard Business Review, recognition should go beyond performance and extend into appreciation, which acknowledges a person not just for what they have done but for who they are. When giving verbal appreciation, focus on comments that encompass an employee’s special traits and talents, such as dedication, collaboration, and leadership. Schwantes provides these examples when it comes to providing praise based on leadership qualities:
“Your positive and optimistic attitude on Monday mornings has significantly impacted the team. They eagerly anticipate Mondays and feed off your positive energy throughout the week. This has spread to other teams as well.”
“How you handled last week’s crisis with your calm, composed, and self-assured demeanor was a game changer. Instead of people panicking and blaming each other, your attitude helped the team focus on finding solutions for the client and fixing the process to prevent similar issues in the future. You were instrumental in saving the company from losing one of its best clients.” Schwantes also recommends that leaders use their words of encouragement to help workers feel secure. Job security is always a top concern for employees. When leaders affirm an individual’s place and future in the company, they offer more than compliments but peace of mind.

The Takeaway: Notice & Take Action
Giving praise that encompasses performance, personality, and someone’s place in the company are all great ways to practice words of affirmation. Take inspiration from Schwantes and customize his ideas to fit your observations and employees. And remember: a thoughtful email or note from a boss will go a long way in making someone feel seen, recognized, and appreciated.

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