Cheering for Others

by Laura Sue Johnson

Cheering for others

There are few things in this life that get me more excited than cheering for others. It is one of the simplest things we can do for people around us, and yet, we often miss these opportunities.

It’s tempting as leaders to lean into the expertise and knowledge we have gained and to then do our best to coach people on how they, too, can improve their own performance. What we sometimes forget is that most of us are our own worst critics. In many cases, when you’re working with people who are passionate, driven, and highly motivated, these people are often also highly aware of where they are potentially falling short. If you have metrics in place to track performance and expectations, it’s not likely that people in your organization then need to spend an hour discussing why their metrics may be a little off. Yes, accountability is important. Yes, reflection is important and discussing how we can improve performance is important, but ultimately, what people need is encouragement over admonition

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.

Booker T. Washington

We know there is always room for growth, but don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate your people! While we always want to challenge our team to go one step further, we don’t want to leave them feeling like their hard work isn’t good enough or unseen. Our job is often to spot what isn’t working and try to fix it. Asking our team members, however, “what’s working?” can be a great way to generate discussion leading to a little celebration. It’s good to know why things are working (not just how) and this is a great way to dig into learning what causes good things to happen in your business. And when you know someone on your team is in a difficult season, go out of your way to encourage them, thank them for showing up despite challenges, and to cheer them on.

So, what are some ways we can increase the amount of positive attention people are receiving at work? Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Have a designated time during both organization-wide meetings and weekly team meetings for people to recognize the work of others.
  2. Write personal notes of appreciation to your team members (bonus points if they’re handwritten).
  3. Have your team members nominate their fellow teammates for a job well done.
  4. If you have the budget for it, send a small gift card as a thanks when you know someone has really been working hard (whether it be an effort of improvement, extra time focused on a specific project, or simply just because you want them to know that you see them).
  5. Recognize team members for putting your organization’s core values into practice. Share those stories with the rest of the team!

A note to leaders: Research shows that happy (mentally and physically) leaders have happier teams. So, in essence, how well you take care of yourself shows up in the experience of your team. If you show up to work less than enthused (even if it’s not related to your work), that negativity can have profound effects on the working health of your team. Conversely, if you are taking care of yourself and relatively happy, your positive demeanor will have a deep impact on your team as well as their performance. Let’s be aware of how we show up when others are looking to us to set the tone.

For those rainy days when you need your own reminder of how awesome you are, keep a folder (whether tangible or digital) of your own “greatest hits.” You know those kind notes you’ve gotten through the years? Maybe they’re emails that go a little deeper than the regular “thank you.” Maybe you’ve written down moments and stories from your experiences that are great to look back on. Whatever that collection looks like, keep it close by for those moments when it’s hard to remember the good work you’ve done along the way. We all need those moments of boost, and there’s nothing wrong with throwing your own little “way to go!” party when you need a pick-me-up.

We leave you with this simple challenge: What’s one thing you could do today to have a positive impact on someone you either work with or live with? We challenge you to follow through with that idea . . . and we triple dog dare you to make this a daily practice. Each person you know is (on average) connected to about 600 people you may never meet. Just imagine the ripple effects of good you can make on this world if you intentionally give one moment of positive attention to someone each day!

For more reading, check out The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and You’ve Been Chosen by Cynt Marshall.

Opening photo by Patti Black on Unsplash

Photo of Laura Sue Johnson

Written by Laura Sue Johnson