Tips for Team Leadership: Recognize Your People

As part of our ongoing “21 Days to Accelerate Team Leadership Success” blog series, Day 3 has you focusing on your people and what gifts they each bring to the team. For most leaders, assessing your talent’s capabilities may be the easy part, but what may feel harder is taking the time to actually deliver the positive feedback needed to build trust on a team and raise employee engagement levels. Realize this, most of us really want to know that what we do matters and contributes to the team’s performance. For this reason, it is not surprising that the US Department of Labor reports that 64% of working Americans leave their jobs because they are not recognized.“Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.”  ~ Robert McNamara, former president Ford Motor Company


In less than 15 minutes today you will create a list of your team member’s strengths, the situations in which they shine best and the last time you shared positive feedback with them.

Start by taking out a piece of paper:

  • Label a sheet of paper with 4 columns: Name, 3 Strengths, Best Situations, Feedback
  • Name column: list all of the members of your team
  • Strengths column: for each team member, list their top 3 strengths and be as specific as possible for instance, “work ethic” may need to say “inspires others with her commitment to produce quality work”
  • Best Situations column: list the situations where they really thrive; is someone on your team better at presentations to the board and someone else better helping the group solve a common problem? If so, take note of it, so you can find the opportunities to help this leader perform this role on an even more regular basis
  • Feedback column: list the last time you gave this team member specific feedback about their work

Once your list is complete, take note of what you see. Has it been awhile since your team members received positive feedback from you? Are you recognizing team members doing their best work? If not, you may have fallen in the bad habit of focusing your energy on what they are not doing well.

Take the time today to compliment your team members for what they are doing well and what you appreciate about their contributions to the team. While we need to give our people specific feedback when their performance is not up to par, research on positivity suggests that noticing what they do well and building on those skills is a far more effective way to harness their full potential.

You shouldn’t be looking for people slipping up, you should be looking for all the good things people do and praising those.”  ~ Richard Branson, founder of Virgin