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Tips for working well together - Appreciate and celebrate character strengths

(One from the archives - originally posted on Helen Sanderson Associates website, November 2015)

“Appreciation can make a day – even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." – Margaret Cousins

People often focus on what they can’t do, or on what others around them can’t do instead of on their strengths. Most of us need to be reminded of what our strengths are. I recently blogged about the importance of nurturing character and how this can help support greater happiness within the workplace, ‘Want people to be happy? Nurture Character’. Demonstrating appreciation for everyone’s unique characters makes everyone feel valued and enables everyone to shine – boosting staff engagement, happiness, retention and productivity.

1. Decide where character appreciation best fits into your organisation’s policies and systems.

Is character celebrated as part of appraisals and built into rewards? If not, should it be? Do you have ways of acknowledging demonstrations of character strength on a daily, weekly, monthly basis? Can you create new opportunities for expressing appreciation and celebrating people’s character? Can these be built into your organisations policies and procedures?

2. Design a culture where character is appreciated and celebrated

Encouraging colleagues to regularly share the character strengths they like and admire in each other can bring big rewards for both people and business.

Character development and appreciation shouldn’t just fall to human resources or managers. Different people will see and appreciate different qualities in each other. The most successful organisations nurture good relationships and high levels of interdependence at all levels – this relies on everyone taking initiative to show appreciation.

Ideally get colleagues together to share what character strengths they like and admire in each other but be mindful that many people feel very uncomfortable giving and receiving appreciation. At HSA we have designed various person-centred tools to help facilitate exchanges of appreciation in a variety of ways that cater for everyone in an inclusive way.

3. Pick your tools or develop your own to suit your organisation

These Fink cards we have developed provide a great aide when asking people to talk about what they like and admire about each other.

The post cards we’ve made also provide a nice way of capturing some of the lovely things people say about each other and can be pinned to a notice board or fridge as a nice reminder.

I love one-page profiles, Here is my one-page profile. One-page profiles include a section on the person’s key character strengths, what ‘people people like and admire about them’. One-page profiles can be kept as a personal record and development plan. They can be usefully shared e.g. with colleagues, managers, clients and adapted for use outside of work, e.g. volunteering or for family. We’ve also helped organisation develop one-page profiles at a team and organisational level. Look out for my next blog exploring ways one-page profiles can be used to increase happiness at work.

4. Keep appreciation unique, sincere and timely

Unique, there is no one set way for people to show or share their appreciation for each other. People need to find a way that feels comfortable and meaningful to them. Ask people to share what works for them.

Sincere, if you don’t mean it, don’t say it!

Timely, don’t wait until an appraisal or team meeting to show your appreciation. Keep it regular. Make it a habit. The more people give and receive appreciation the easier it becomes. I have consciously practiced giving and receiving appreciation with both colleagues and family. Develop your own prompts drawing your attention to people’s character and reminding you of ways to show your appreciation.

5. Celebrate

At a recent workshop we facilitated, attendees wrote down what they admired about each other on post-its and handed them to each other. Their wall of appreciation provides a wonderful reminder of their collective superpowers.

6. Share, share and share

The key asset of any organisation is its people. Having identified and nurtured all their wonderful character strengths don’t forget to share with the world. What a great way to demonstrate just how awesome your organisation is! Potential customers, employees and partners are more likely to choose your organisation if you show that you are proud of the people who work with you. We are quick to share what people like and admire about our team at HSA.

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Happen Together CIC

For you, for your work, for social change

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