Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
With a small gesture, you may completely change a team member's day.
Thank you—two simple words that don't get used enough. As leaders, it's our responsibility to thank our staff members regularly, motivating and reassuring them of a job well done. And you'll never say thanks too often, so stop worrying! As long as your acknowledgement is genuine, it can never be overused. Staff members won't complain that you thank them too much, but they will remember if you never recognize them or their work. A personal thank you can give your staff members a burst of energy and enthusiasm to pursue greater goals that will resonant to others.
But just saying thanks isn't enough: You need to prove through your actions that you truly appreciate your staff members' hard work. What you consider a small gesture might just completely change someone's day. Many organizations have simple ways of recognizing staff members who go above and beyond during their shift, such as a gift certificate for a cup of coffee or a free lunch. And don't forget that a handwritten thank you speaks volumes; it shows your team member that you took the time to write a note about something he or she did and illustrates your commitment to your team and its professional growth.
Acknowledgement and recognition need to have a trickle-down effect. These gestures begin with management and flow all the way to our patients and their families. Leaders need to encourage staff members to thank one another. It isn't enough for staff members to hear just from their leader; peers should also verbalize their appreciation for coworkers, especially after a tough shift!
If you don't consistently demonstrate acknowledgement of achievements, others won't see the importance of the goal. Appreciation needs to be built into your organization's culture; don't limit it to Nurses Week celebrations only. Every day, identify team members who've performed at the highest level and call attention to it. Just remember, insincerity is deadly. Your words and actions must be congruent and consistent across the board.
Don't overlook various levels of staff, from assistive personnel to administrative and housekeeping. Each team member plays a vital role in delivering the highest standard of care—each one deserves recognition for their efforts.
Thank you...a simple enough expression. It takes two seconds to say, but has infinite potential. Never underestimate its power.
© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.