November 13th: Say Thank You Now: Don’t Wait for Employee Appreciation Day
Having a dedicated holiday or annual occasion to formally celebrate someone sounds like a good idea on the surface, however, it doesn’t reflect the first value of agile product development. Why do we need to wait for a special day to tell someone that we appreciate them for who they are, for what they do and how they impact our lives? In fact, it seems a little disingenuous to share a message or token of appreciation on that given day because society obligates us to do so.
Let’s turn this around and refocus on the first value of agile methodology. We need to routinely take a moment to pause and communicate our appreciation. “Value 1 = individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” We could just as easily add “… over formalized events or occasions or annual performance reviews.” What this agile value is essentially saying is that expressing appreciation, gratitude or human decency and kindness to another human doesn’t have to be prescriptive. Instead, it’s quite the opposite. It should flow freely, be a natural expression and happen in the moment.
When you’re building high velocity teams, you need to make daily investments in your people, processes and infrastructure. Waiting for a full 364 days or 90 days (or whatever your performance review cadence is) to tell someone that they are doing a good job and that you sincerely applaud and value all their late nights and extra effort is too long to wait. Telling them how valuable they are to your company and client as often as they deserve to be told (without being overly expressive as that has a similar negative outcome through the dilution of the message) is the best way to bolster your team.
Do you want a high velocity team who is loyal, dedicated to the needs of your customers and proud of the work they do? I’m sure that you do. And, assuming that you do want your agile craftsmen to remain “your” agile craftsmen, then go one step further and acknowledge that person’s efforts in front of others.
The pace of software development is best described like that multi-movie franchise, “Fast and Furious.” It can be relentless. Many projects are inherently complex requiring sophisticated engineering. As if that wasn’t already challenging enough, layered on top of the work itself are the difficulties associated with logistics, managing international and remote teams, coordinating individual efforts, and keeping your teams motivated. These factors compound the burden carried by practice leads and executives.
Just as the agile value mandates, we must put people ahead of processes and tools. The ones doing the work are human. They have human needs: they want to be with their families, spouses, and friends. Missing a night out or birthday or some other event can be tough, but manageable if it’s once in a while. However, repeatedly missing every social outing with friends and family month after month during an extended project sprint is not going to have a positive outcome. Nor will missing even one of the “big rocks” milestones like a graduation or wedding. These losses will have lasting repercussions on employee morale and taint corporate culture.
People are human. We need to belong and we long to be part of a community that values our membership. Agile leaders must reinforce appreciation of these “extra efforts” through grace, gratitude and occasionally, through special dispensation. This is how to build trusted and long-term relationships, as well as high velocity, agile teams.
Leaders of agile craftsmen, particularly of those who are placed onsite at a client and disconnected from the “mothership HQ” must take time to pause and recognize the importance of showing appreciation. Yes, these sprints are fast and furious but they will never be successful if you don’t show your people that you care. Not to mention how one sprint flows into another, then another, and then the epic wraps up as another begins. As a leader, you must also impress upon your clients who are hosting your agile craftsmen that they also express appreciation for a job well done. Doing so fosters a sense of community and helps the onsite workers feel like they belong and are playing a valuable role alongside the client’s employees.
Staying strong on execution and adhering to process is critical for success. Yet there must be time deliberately factored in to pause, however briefly, to recognize the efforts of one individual at a time. In so doing, it won’t be long before everyone has been recognized for their contribution and be made to feel that they are indeed, an important part of a special community. Remember, as per agile Value #1 – if you put people first, ahead of processes and tools, you will have a high velocity 10x team.
Thanks and Keep Growing,
What We’re Reading Around the Web
10 Creative Ways to Show Employees Appreciation
Business News Daily
“There’s no better time of year to brush up on your employee appreciation best practices than right now.”
The Importance of Saying “Thank You” in the Workplace
“In fact, companies that spend a mere 1% of their payroll budget on thanking and recognizing their employees ‘are more likely to perceive greater impacts on retention and financial outcomes.’”
If Bosses Want Happier Employees, Start by Saying “Tank You”
“In fact, 75% of U.S. employees surveyed agreed that motivation and company morale would improve if managers simply thanked workers in real-time for a job well done.”
16 Best Practices for Conducting Employee Reviews
“Be sure to highlight good performance and explain why it was good and how it helped the team and the company as a whole. Recognition is key in making your employees feel valued for the hard work they put in.”
The Employer’s Guide for Boosting Employee Retention with Recognition
“One study polled over 1,500 workers, finding more than half were considering a job move. When asked what would motivate them to stay with their employer, 69% said recognition and rewards.”