Whether you are working with a paid staff or a volunteer staff, it is vital that you acknowledge accomplishment. It is not only good for the one being recognized, but also a good motivator for others to achieve.
According to Linda J Miller & Chad W. Hall in Coaching for Christian Leaders, there are three aspects to giving recognition or acknowledgement:
1. Timing. Speed is everything. Getting the acknowledgement as close to the accomplishment is important. It not only reinforces the work quickly, but it enables the person to know that their work was noticed. Sometimes when we have worked hard on something, we wonder if anyone notices or cares. Quick recognition does that.
2. Specificity. Miller and Hall state:
Be specific about what has been noticed, about the small steps taken, about a change in attitude, about a changed belief, or about anything the person…has done that can be genuinely acknowledged.
3. Style. Hall & Miller note two important things about style in giving recognition.
a. Try to begin your comment with “you” or something other than “I”. YOU are not the point (“I so appreciated how hard you worked on that!”) THEY are the point. (“You really showed your perseverance in getting that done.” or “The program you put together really was creative and gave the event that extra touch of class! Thank you!”)
b. But the second element of style is knowing HOW the person likes to be acknowledged or recognized. Do they like recognition to be public, or do they prefer to be recognized privately? Do they like to hear the acknowledgement or see it in writing?
Many years ago I had a wonderful volunteer secretary who faithfully came in every week to type & print the church bulletin. I gave her verbal thanks & recognized her work in front of others. And she always smiled & seemed sheepish about it. But one day I wrote her a simple thank you note for her work. It took less than 60 seconds.
Over a year later, our family was in her home & I noticed that my thank you note was up on her refrigerator. I mentioned it and she said, with tears in her eyes, “No minister has EVER sent me a thank you note for what I have done at the church. It means SO much.”
I found her method of being acknowledged.
However it is done, acknowledging those who work so hard around us is a critical skill in ministry. It is one in which most of us could do a much better job!!