C = Celebrating what you want to see more!
Success Means Never Feeling Tired, an article by Dr. Mortimer Adler supports the notion that success is the most motivating human factor. There is nothing like knowing you are doing the right thing or at the right time or for the right reasons. Celebration for the little things is a lost art as we have come to expect them in every day life. I appreciate watching football and seeing fans, coaches, teammates, and/or the players themselves get excited after each play.
Celebration can look a million difference ways, whether acknowledgement, award, adventure, or affirmation. Either way, celebration must communicate the accomplishment of a goal and when leaders celebrate their teams’ successes, they guarantee more times of celebration. But when leaders do not celebrate their teams’ successes, they guarantee increasing times of frustration and resentment. After all, the age old adage says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.”
L = Listening with your ears, eyes, and undivided attention.
Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, names quality time one of the five. While it may not be each team member’s chief love language, everyone wants to be considered. When a person on your team is speaking, listen with your ears, eyes, and undivided attention. It may be helpful to silence your phone, turn it down, or turn it off. If you have a laptop, close your screen, and if it’s a desktop, consider turning off your screen or relocating where you can listen without distraction. Make eye contact with other members of your team. Actively listen with head nods and affirming sounds or words. Ask strategic, relevant, and thoughtful questions so others know you are listening and engaged. Leaders who listen will know their teammates a lot better than those who don’t. Those relational investments will pay dividends in years to come if a relational withdrawal is necessary. Yet, if relational withdrawals frequently occur, it won’t be long before relational bankruptcy. Remember, people quit people before anything else, so listen closely, carefully, and continually.
E = Expressing your deep gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices of others.
Another love language Gary Chapman identifies is words of affirmation. While we often think about the efforts and sacrifices of others, many of us rarely find the time or words to say or pen a thank you. We take people like our parents, relatives, siblings, bosses, co-workers, protégés, children, and mentors for granted. One of the ways we can show more gratitude is express it with words. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, once said, “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune.” Someone once well said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” If you are not a words person, it may be helpful to go to Hallmark or even a dollar store and stock up on Thank You cards and notes that express your gratitude. Even writing thank you and the person’s first and last name in a card or providing a gift card for them is much better than nothing. And a thank you is certainly always better late than never.
A = Assuming everyone on your team is intelligent, capable, and working diligently with the best interest of others at heart.
I know what they say about assuming, but if you don’t assume these particular things for your team, you will not build trust, depth of relationship, and camaraderie. Whether you put your team together or not, it’s the team you have and if you can’t get out of it, get into it! Attack it before it attacks you. When we believe the best about others, without naiveté, but a genuine and heartfelt desire to see others do their best, we create environments of community, humility, responsibility, integrity, sacrifice, trust, and accountability. It would not be hard to be transparent in such an environment because each team member would know they are amongst friends more than co-workers. Competitions for such a team stay true to the word and jointly strive for the best and common good of all team members. We all desire to be a part of a team where we know we are accepted for who we are and pushed to reach our potential and be the best version of ourselves possible.
R = Reminding your team of their God-given worth, value to the work process, and difference their making.
There’s nothing quite like knowing your value. When you don’t know your value, you are willing to settle for less than the best rather than battle for excellence in every area. Knowing your value allows you to work with confidence because your identity is not in the team or organization. That confidence brings excitement and energy to the work process, therefore marking you as one of the most valuable players. Such a confident attitude makes all the difference in the lives of your co-workers, leaders, and customers.
Another great practice for organizations and teams is debriefing the past. Want a priceless resource? Review the fruit of your labor, the progress you’ve made, the lives touched or changed, and neighborhoods affected by the work of your own hands and the hands of those on your team. The more we remind ourselves of those truths, triumphs, and even trials of storms we weathered together, the closer we grow and deeper we go in relationship. That kind of teamwork is unstoppable. It is unified. And its product is undeniable. And the reason the product is undeniable: The product is your team.