Pride, Optimism and Recognition in the Workplace

How do you instill pride and optimism in your employees? What actionable steps do you need to take?

The first question you need to ask is – what people really want? The answer: to be treated as a respected and valued human being.  No one is a robot. No one wants to be ignored or worse, put down.   All humans have a need to belong and that includes belonging in the workplace.

It is very easy for managers to not pay attention to the real humans who are their employees. Managers have their own bosses with deadlines and stresses and more. They need the staff they manage to get the work that needs to be done done.

The managers who have happy staff, are the ones who take the time to recognize and respect the people who work for them as truly unique individuals who are valued members of the team.  This isn’t something that can be dictated, it has to be modelled and taught.

The problem is most managers don’t get training on what the role of a manager is and how to do it properly. So, they act how they think they should act and sometimes, their insecurities get in the way of them making human connections.

Now, I admit, I am NOT the greatest at making human connections because I’m a bit of an introvert. But a big part of my practice as a Humanist is to actually make eye contact when I meet someone. I try to get and remember their name. I try to be human with them. Meaning, I try to be my real self and not act as if I am someone I’m not. I’m a flawed geeky human. I share that with others.  The managers I have had that I respected the most, were not only the most real, they were also the most genuinely respectful people I’ve ever worked for. That is what we all should be aiming for.

Soft Management Skills.

The “soft skills required to do this right, like actively listening take time. That’s why people don’t do them. To treat your employees as fully human, you have to give them your time as a manager. Listen to them. Talk to them. Learn about what their struggles are and what their dreams are and who they want to be and who they admire and what tv shows and movies and music they like.  This takes time.  And it’s not optional. It’s necessary to learn what motivates your employees so you can provide them with what they need and want.


Often what people want is to be trusted. This can be demonstrated by asking for their opinion on decision making and respecting the input they are providing.  Don’t just give lip service to team work. Actually treat the members of your team as equally valued.


The next thing people want is to be treated with respect. This is why bullying, harassment and discrimination should never be tolerated. Unless you are a sadist, most people don’t enjoy working in an environment with a bully. So don’t just write off interpersonal problems as normal. They aren’t and they negatively effect the work being done and the decisions being made. Address them professionally and get rid of any employee who is not respectful of their co-workers.

Clear directions: 

Part of communication is being clear about what needs to be done. I offer a course on the 7 sins of staff management. They are all communication sins.  One of the sins is to not tell someone WHY a particular job needs to be done.  This is so important because if an employee doesn’t know why something has to be done, then if something happens that makes doing that job hard or impossible, they won’t necessarily know how to prioritize the fixing of it and they won’t necessarily understand how important it is to find a work around to get it done. In other words, the why jobs need to get done, helps employees be creative when a problem arises in the course of doing the job.

Individualize Recognition

Finally, when it comes to recognition, different people need different things. And unless you get to know who they are, really, you won’t know what they really need. Some people need and want public acknowledgement of their contributions to the team. Others would cringe if you made a public spectacle of them.  What I learned from my time as a volunteer manager is that most people are looking for friendship and while managers can’t really be friends with their staff, they can still instill a sense of camaraderie and respect in the team.

To learn more consider taking these courses or offer them to your new managers are part of their orientation program.

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