Warning! Appreciation May Be Contagious
used with permission from HP Small Business Site

When times are tough, it's tough to stay positive — particularly if you are surrounded by gloomy people.

But rather than fall victim to negative attitudes, resolve to take a different approach. Stay positive and channel your optimism to create a healthy, more productive environment. One idea you can start using right away is peer recognition.

Expressing your appreciation to a co-worker is one of the simplest, most rewarding efforts you can make. Giving credit where due, or just telling a co-worker you appreciate their work, can give an unexpected boost — and it has an additional benefit: it improves their perception of you.

Say thank you
Think about the last time you received a spontaneous "thank you" from someone at work — one that made you feel more connected to your work, that your contribution was valuable. It can really make someone's day and make them feel more positive about the work they're doing.

  • Send an appreciation note, or just pick up the phone! You could send a handwritten note or card, or an email (copy it to your manager and theirs). Do it as soon as possible — don't put it off.

  • Make it personal. Use the person's name, be specific about what it is you're thanking him/her for, and explain how what they did helped you.

  • Offer to do your colleague's most hated task for a day — maybe kitchen duty?

Practice "random acts of recognition"
No special occasion is needed. You can tell your co-workers how much you value them and their contribution anytime. Show appreciation to people who have helped you with a special project, provided feedback on a new idea, or taken care of your work load.

Remember that it's more meaningful to be specific. Which one of the following do you think expresses more genuine appreciativeness and warmth?

  • Example 1: Dear Ian: Great work. Thanks for your effort!

  • Example 2: Dear Ian: You recently reworked our support strategy and created new processes that make sense to our users and are easy to follow. I used to receive numerous questions a week from employees unclear on the process. Now I receive none. Thank you for your excellent work and for making my life easier!

Find ways to celebrate and have fun
In this highly competitive, recession-battered, global economic environment, an engaged workforce is more important than ever. Unfortunately, the same economic forces that make employee engagement so vital also pose severe challenges to motivation.

Inspire others and be inspired by taking time to celebrate wins and applaud each other's contributions. Celebrations don't need to be expensive.

Are you up for the challenge?
Peer recognition is probably one of the most powerful job motivators that we have available to us. It's simple and doesn't require too great an investment in time or cost. What makes it effective is the passion and care that drives it.

Go on. Give it a try. Here are some tips:

  • Be timely — don't put off saying "thanks." Recognition is more meaningful when it's immediate.

  • Be specific — let folks know exactly what they did that you appreciate.

  • Be sincere — mean what you say, say what you mean.

Here are some ideas:

  • Greet your colleagues by name and take a few minutes to see how they are doing.

  • Make it personal! Give a handwritten €thank you' note or card.

  • Pick up the phone. "I just called to say thank you" goes a long way

  • Send an e-mail congratulating someone on a job well done (copy your manager and theirs)

  • Make or buy your colleague's favorite food and bring it in to work.

  • Offer to do your colleague's most unpleasant task for a day to say €thanks.'

  • Ask for a colleague's opinion or ideas on a project.

  • Write several thank you Post-it notes and hide them in and around your colleague's desk.

  • Praise something your coworker has done well. Identify the specific actions that you found admirable.

  • Ask your coworkers about their family, their hobby, their weekend or a special event they attended.