Workplace Appreciation Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them

Participating in company recognition programs is a great place to start showing your gratitude to your fellow team members, but let’s face it, winning company swag for a job well done can get old.  How many sets of luggage tags does one person need, anyway?

While we may not all be able to influence the programs that our companies put into place, we can definitely impact our teams on an individual level. This week, we’re talking about the ins and outs of showing your colleagues a token of your appreciation.

Speak The Right Language

Everyone has different preferences and biases for what types of recognition they prefer – you might even call them languages. According to authors Paul White and Gary Chapman, there are five languages of appreciation

  • Tangible Gifts
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Be Aware Of Your Blind Spot

With the best of intentions, we appreciate others in the way we, ourselves, would like to be appreciated. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, right? If your primary language just happens to be your team member’s least valued language, you might be wasting your time. They key here is to appreciate someone in the language of appreciation THEY prefer.

Chart Your Course

If you want to avoid the pitfalls of personal bias, start with getting to know your own language first before diagnosing others. Reading the book and a little self-reflection is all that’s needed here. Everyone has a language preference. Before reading the book, I guessed my language incorrectly and Rebecca didn’t think she had one (she does), so we both learned something this week!

Stuff We Talked About

Favorite Things

  • I’m really into a new Photoshop retouching class by Lisa Carney
  • Rebecca just wanted to take a moment to shout out a little appreciation to the people in her life who love and support her. We all need people in our lives to lift us up!

Employee of the Month – Honor or Horror?

Why are some awards trashed while others are treasured?

For every employee of the month award lovingly displayed, there’s another performance award gathering dust in some forgotten corner. What’s the difference awards destined for the spotlight and ones destined for the garbage?  Hint: it’s not the prestige of the award. Heck, at least one Oscar ended up in the trash. During this episode of the Comm Campers we discuss the deficiencies of many workplace award programs and the difference between appreciation and recognition.

Do I hear $100 for this performance award? Going once …

At the end of the day, it’s about the value the recipient attaches to the award.  And, I’m not talking about $100 bills taped to the award’s shiny bottom. For recognition to be effective, it should highlight something that the recipient is proud of, even if it’s not what the recognizer values most. It’s not that difficult of a concept. If you give a 10-year black belt an award for being the prettiest princess, she likely will kick your butt.  Literally. Likewise if you recognize a coworker for creating a logo they think is ugly, they won’t truly appreciate it and they may actually respect you less.

This is your brain on serotonin. Any questions?

While recognition missteps can result in bruised relationships (and possibly bruised ribs), get it right and both the recognized and the recognizer get a powerful knife-hand strike of the brain chemical serotonin. Those perpetually high on the words of Simon Sinek (I’m looking at you Kari), will immediately know that serotonin is a “selfless” brain chemical that impacts how we feel about people. However, if your brain is not steeped in oxytocin (the love chemical) for Simon, this episode provides an overview of key brain chemicals and explains why poor recognition systems actually trigger “selfish” brain chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine.

The workplace MVP is always authentic appreciation

If a company has a broken culture, putting together a recognition program is a visible way the company can show it’s taking steps to fix things. However, as a stand-alone tactic, it can do more harm than good. More important than shiny trophies or bonuses is having a culture rooted in authentic appreciation. And unless you’re Meryl Streep and have won three Oscars, authenticity is not something you can fake. While leaders really need to lead the charge in shaping cultural change, there are things that employees at all levels can do that may or may not involve cake.

Stuff we talked about

Favorite things

My favorite thing for this episode is shameless self promotion x2.  Kari created this cute little logo for my freelance writing business — The Write Meaning.  

The Write Meaning

Kari’s new favorite thing is painting with acrylic inks.  She used the results as a background in the day planner/bullet journal she made for herself.  Isn’t she one talented gal?

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Are Work Friendships All They Are Cracked Up To Be?

Even though having a friend at work can help boost productivity and increase job satisfaction, only 19% of people surveyed had close friends at work. So, what keeps us from bonding with our cube mates? Is it better to maintain a “professional distance” than to risk revealing too much about yourself? In this episode of Comm Capers, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of having friends in the workplace, what (or who) to watch out for, and strategies for cultivating more personal relationships at work.

It’s really about connection

While you might just want someone to eat lunch or catch happy hour with, consider a broader perspective. In his book, LEADERS EAT LAST, Simon Sinek talks about the concept of developing circles of safety – a group of people we trust, share values with, and look out for at work. Circles of safety give us a much needed sense of belonging. It is our willingness to look out for the people we work with that helps teams really thrive. And when the going gets tough, you’ll know who you can count on.

Fill your inner circle

It’s gets harder to make friends as we grow older! If you think you’re ready to up your friend game with a potential kindred spirit at work, keep in mind that workplace friendships can thrive as long as you are able to set boundaries to ensure your work gets done. And lastly, don’t despair if you haven’t found someone from work to join your Star Trek themed bocce ball league. Some people just like to keep their work and social lives separate. Shift your focus to building positive and working relationships. After all, professional distance can be beneficial, too.

Stuff We Talked About

Having Work Friends Can Be Tricky, but It’s Worth It
Psychologist shares the secret to making friends at work
How Important Your Workplace Friendships Are Depends on Your Age
Toxic Colleagues: Nine Coworkers To Watch Out For
This American Life Podcast – Episode 587 The Perils of Intimacy
This is how to make friends as an adult: Five secrets backed by research
Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last TED talk
Zukey’s World Mews

Favorite Things

• Kari’s late to the party and is currently binge watching The Office on Netflix.
• Rebecca’s conquering Cat Quest with her will power wielding cat!

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Don’t Drop the Ball: Tools for Managing Team Projects

Project Management Tools For Every Team

Whether your team is small like a hacky sack circle or large like a soccer team, there’s a project management tool out there that will work for how your group manages projects. Need a to-do list? A workflow? Milestones complete with gantt charts? Time tracking? Collaboration or communication tool? This site for sorting project management tools can help you narrow down which tools could meet your needs.

Project Status: Unicorn

For the Comm Capers, customization and design are key elements in project management tool selection and adoption. During the episode, we talk about how we love that both Slack and Dapulse … err DaMonday … err monday.com are happy apps. They are so cute and friendly (I think Slack Bot like, likes me, if you know what I mean). Monday.com allows you to create endless boards for your projects and track whatever you want. On monday.com, you can even to do things like set your statuses to unicorn, elephant and sock. Slack allows to you to create streams for topics (we do this for our different podcast ideas) and share video and audio files. The mobile Slack app is also great; if you were part of my team I could “slack you” at any time, day or night.  

Project Tracking: It’s Personal

People who are good at managing projects tend to double-up on tracking methods — using the company-designated project management tool and their own special way (i.e., bullet journal, day planner, post-it notes, cat telepathy, etc.). However, we all know people who do not see the value in sharing information about project status. Ensuring compliance with a communal project management tool requires management support because, at the end of the day, people are going to do what works for them or what their managers make them do.

Stuff We Talked About

Favorite Things

Excel Saga Manga – The discovery of this manga series delighted Rebecca and her ears. If you are not aware of Excel Saga, here’s the description of the series from Wikipedia: “Believing the world to be corrupt, the secret organization Across plans to conquer the world. The first step in the plan for world domination is to begin by focusing on one city in order to minimize setbacks. Across consists of the leader of the organization, Il Palazzo, and his young adult officers: the enthusiastic and energetically devoted Excel and the soft-spoken and prone to spitting out lots of blood and fainting Hyatt.”

Webble Ergonomic Office Footrest – With this new footrest, Kari’s feet can now Webble (wobble) and not fall down. While Kari presents as mild mannered, she clearly has pent-up aggression that comes out of her feet resulting in the destruction of countless reasonably-priced footrests.  While her Webble was (gasp) $150, all footrests can now rest easier knowing that they will not suffer injustice at the hands of her … uh feet.

Is Your Marketing Plan Empty Inside?

Donuts are great! But you can’t really survive on just donuts, at least not without affecting your health. “Donut” marketing plans are the same way. They’ve got all the hype and sugary goodness of a donut, but may lack the strategy (the juicy center) that will inspire customers to pick you over the other pastries in their box. In this episode, we talk about ways to turn your marketing plan into more than just another “donut.”

It’s All About The Recipe

Does your plan lack substance? Is it really just a me-too plan with color sprinkles that match your corporate color palette?  Did your exciting new tactic fall flat? What a good marketing plan really comes down to is finding the right recipe. So, grab a cruller and your favorite cup of coffee and join us as we share our recipe for baking up a better marketing plan.

Stuff We Mentioned

Favorite Things

Jakeeno the dog, a.k.a. the Bismarck donut hater

huh

Branding Your Career Box

Imagine that you have a box the size of a trailer home. Then imagine someone tells you that you can only put ten things in it. That’s crazy talk, right?  Yet, sometimes in our careers we can encounter limits as to what we’re supposed to do based on our job descriptions. In this episode of Comm Capers we talk about what to do when your career “box” starts to feel too small.

Feeling Boxed In?

Finding a new job is probably the most obvious way to go.  But as you look out into the big ol’ world, how do you set yourself up for success, especially if you career “box” is different than the norm? During the episode we discuss personal branding as a great way for people to highlight the value of everything that is contained in their career box. And, if a new job isn’t something you can wrap yourself up in, how else can you define success?

We like Big Boxes (Sir Mix-A-Lot Homage)

We like big boxes and we cannot lie.
Neither Kari nor I can deny
That when the company has an itty bitty need,
There’s no one to help? Well that’s our speed.
We jump up fast. We get it done .
It’s not in our JD, but we think it’s fun.
Padding up our resumes,
For when we’re gonna leave one day.
Oh baby, let’s make it work,
Make it better, go bezerk.
My coworkers try to warn me
But an itty box makes me so orny.

Stuff We Mentioned

Favorite Things

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