Your organization feels the economic misery. Your team knows that you have to make cuts. You want to keep spirits up, but budgets are tight and getting even tighter. Everyone feels overworked, tired, and taken for granted. You are tense and irritable yourself.
Now is the time for a magnanimous but totally basic gesture. It is simple and free, and will lift your spirits too. It is so simple that as a “sophisticated” Harvard Business School expert, I am almost reluctant to mention it. But it works.
The gesture: Send notes of appreciation to the people on your team telling them specifically what you value about each of them as colleagues. Surprise them with something they might not know that you notice. No form letters. Preferably handwritten notes, to stand out in the impersonal email clutter.
If you are not the big boss, you could also ask the next level above you to send a letter to your team acknowledging their contributions.
Some of the best CEOs are known for their handwritten notes. When Jeannette Wagner headed Estee Lauder, she always had stationery with her on trips to keep getting out those notes, sometimes sent in the next hour after a meeting. U.S. Presidents have built their goodwill banks of future supporters through handwritten notes (not the ones generated by machines). One of my most revered bosses, former Harvard Business School Dean John McArthur, wrote them. Former Harvard president Neil Rudenstine did too, winning over the same contentious faculty members responsible for the overthrow of his successor, Larry Summers, who was more likely to dole out criticism, not appreciation.
In organizations and professions where a show of emotion is rare, recipients might secretly treasure the note because it is unexpected. Your own mood will improve as you think positive thoughts. This is scientifically proven.
Of course you know this! This is just a reminder. It works at home, too.
Author : Rosabeth Moss Kanter