Offering honest feedback to your team is critical to being a manager. Your team is your most valuable asset, and being able to highlight their contributions and celebrate their successes at work is a huge component of building appreciation. At the same time, acknowledging when there is room for improvement or opportunity to do something different has its own value.
Understanding your team’s Languages of Appreciation can help managers strike a balance between providing affirmation and constructive feedback. Let’s examine why it’s so important to celebrate your team’s success (and failures) at work and how to effectively communicate through how your team members best receive feedback.
Why Is Team Acknowledgment So Critical?
Acknowledgment is becoming more of a business imperative as we understand its impact on employee satisfaction and retention. Let’s look at the top ten reasons why acknowledging both employee success and failure is important.
1. Enhances Job Satisfaction
Although 89 percent of employers think people leave for more money, only 12 percent cite this as their primary reason.
In fact, when employees are asked what aspects contribute most to their job satisfaction, 59 percent cited being able to showcase their skills, and 50 percent cited recognition of job performance as “very important.”
Employees who feel recognized and appreciated for their efforts tend to have higher job satisfaction, which can lead to lower turnover rates and higher retention of top talent.
2. Recognition Is a Motivator
Recognition is a powerful tool for motivation.
In fact, a Glassdoor employee survey found that over eight-in-10 employees reported being motivated to work harder after receiving appreciation, and 68 percent of employees are happy with the appreciation they receive from their manager.
However, more than half (53 percent) of employees admit they would stay longer at their current company if they felt more appreciation.
3. Encourages Employee Innovation
When employees know their successes will be celebrated at work and their failures will be handled with dignity and care, they are more likely to take risks and innovate.
Having a safe space to try new ideas and knowing you’ll be rewarded for your efforts helps encourage employees to think outside the box and propose fresh ideas.
4. Improves Team and Individual Morale
Recognizing team and individual achievements—big and small—helps boost overall morale. Employees can see that their work wasn’t overlooked and take comfort in knowing that their leadership appreciates their contributions. Celebrating team wins can foster a deeper sense of unity and belonging and reinforce cohesion among the team as everyone is working toward a common goal.
5. Promotes Learning and Growth
Acknowledging success teaches an employee to repeat that action. Acknowledging failures offers employees a valuable learning opportunity to grow and improve in the future. It’s important for an employee to know where they stand at work.
Managers should frame failures so employees don’t feel shamed or embarrassed for their mistakes. Instead, they should celebrate failures as a chance for continuous learning. For example, managers can emphasize the effort put into the project instead of focusing solely on the outcome.
6. Promotes Accountability As a Core Tennent
When employees know that their contributions—both failures and successes—are being acknowledged, they become more accountable for their actions. Knowing they have a safe place to make mistakes and a place where their accomplishments are championed helps employees take ownership of their work from start to finish.
7. Improves Company Communication
Being able to safely share work and know it will be met with constructive acknowledgment can serve as positive reinforcement. It helps to create a safe space where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and authentic selves.
This leads to better cross-team collaboration and group problem-solving since employees can share their experiences openly, explaining what went wrong and why, which prevents others from making similar mistakes.
8. Fosters Emotional Intelligence and Resiliency
Respectfully acknowledging failures can help employees learn to manage their emotions and handle setbacks positively. It can also serve as a chance to show empathy toward a colleague experiencing a failure. Additionally, celebrating failures and turning them into learning opportunities promotes resiliency and adaptability. Employees will build their resiliency and be better equipped to handle change, making organizations more agile.
9. Promotes Inclusivity
When employee contributions are properly acknowledged, it helps ensure all voices are heard. As diverse perspectives and experiences are valued and championed, it can make more diverse voices feel comfortable contributing.
10. Attracts Top Talent Due to a Strong Organizational Culture
Routinely celebrating individual and team successes/failures contributes to developing a strong organizational culture. That culture sets the tone for how the company values its employees and approaches challenges or setbacks. Organizations known for celebrating wins and learning from failures will attract top talent who want to be a part of a growth-oriented workplace.
How to Celebrate Success and Failures at Work Using the Language of Appreciation
The importance of proper employee appreciation cannot be understated. But it’s important to go about it in the right way. Asking your employees how they like to receive feedback is the primary way to help gather this information. However, not every employee knows the answer!
The Languages of Appreciation help business leaders learn to identify employees’ primary and secondary languages of appreciation at work so it can generate the most meaning and best outcome.
Similar to the 5 Love Languages, the languages of appreciation at work include:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch (in the workplace, this is things like handshakes and fist bumps—it’s the least common of the five)
- Tangible gifts
Using the MBA Inventory, a research-based assessment designed to measure relationships and preferences for appreciation, managers can learn how to express acknowledgment in ways that are the most meaningful. The Languages of Appreciation help build a path to a culture built on appreciation by helping determine your employees’ primary languages, how to use that language regularly, and how to be sincere and specific when delivering appreciation.
Save to Save Space for Honoring Failures at Work
There’s no better feeling than taking a chance on an opportunity and it working out. But what happens when an employee swings for the fences and comes up short?
As we’ve mentioned throughout the article, it’s important to celebrate employees’ success and failures at work when building a strong culture. However, we how challenging acknowledging failure can be. In instances where an employee makes a mistake—perhaps they sent the wrong report to a client or accidentally deleted a file—there’s still room for appreciation while acknowledging room for improvement.
Some positive ways to honor failures and turn them into learning experiences include:
- Handle the situation privately at first by discussing the situation one-on-one.
- Be sure to emphasize effort by focusing on hard work, dedication, and intention to deliver better results.
- Emphasize that failure is part of innovation and growth when we take time to learn from our mistakes.
- Analyze the failure by asking the employee to share their perspective on what went wrong and why.
- Ask gentle, probing questions to help the employee reflect on the factors contributing to the result.
- Avoid blame or shame. Instead, promote a culture of accountability where mistakes happen, but we learn from them.
- Identify lessons and areas where things could have been done differently to avoid similar issues in the future.
- Offer resources and support to help the employee develop skills that would avoid this failure in the future. This could include additional training, mentorship, or access to new tools.
- Organize a team learning session (without singling out the employee) to share lessons learned and emphasize a collective approach to improvement.
- Praise the employees’ resiliency and commitment to making things right.
- Acknowledge the employees’ willingness to learn and grow.
- Don’t let failure define their career. Offer future projects and opportunities for employees to apply the lessons they learned.
- Document the failure and lessons learned, and be sure to follow up.
Acknowledging Employee Success (and Failure) at Work
Acknowledging employee success and failure is a necessary part of managing a team, but how it occurs can majorly impact employee satisfaction. Managers are encouraged apply proven tactics to acknowledge their employees’ contributions.
Organizations can build a strong foundation for long-term employee satisfaction and organizational success by celebrating employee successes and failures.
If you’re looking to unite teams and solve problems that lead to better business results, sign up for our Compass workshop, How to Build a Thriving Culture. It’s a free 90-minute workshop that details four leadership habits that will help you build a more-connected team.