5 Ways to Build a Culture of Appreciation on Your Remote Team
Article by Christopher Littlefield
Creating a remote team culture where people feel appreciated is everyone’s job. If you think about it, culture is a conversation that gets generated by the things we talk about with our coworkers and actions we take each day. Regardless of your position, we all play a critical role in building or maintaining our teams’ culture.
With many of us now at home battling life in self-isolation, it is more important than ever that we are conscious about the conversations we are having with our team members. Counterbalance the added stress and uncertainty of this new reality with a little celebration and appreciation.
Here are five simple yet high-value ways to nurture a culture of appreciation with your remote team during this crisis and after.
1. Show Your Appreciation through Flexibility and Understanding
Whether we are in a health crisis or not, create a culture of appreciation by showing people we appreciate their lives in and outside of work. In my recent article, How to Be a Respectful and Empathetic Remote Coworker during the COVID-19 Crisis, I talked about the importance of understanding what our coworkers are facing at home, staying in touch daily, making it safe to ask for help, and more. If you manage a small team, flexibility is easier to achieve. Take time to ask people how they are doing and listen to their response. Adapt meeting times, adjust deadlines, and show flexibility and understanding of their circumstances. This signals to them that you care.
2. Celebrate Together with a Small Victories Practice
In this time of great uncertainty, help your teammates celebrate their progress by initiating a small victories practice. I am thankful to group process expert Glenn Johnson for this simple yet powerful activity. Every Thursday, Glenn posts the question, “What were your small victories this week?” to a Facebook group of speakers and consultants. Maybe you reached out to a client you had been avoiding, finished a report, cleaned your house, or exercised for the first time in weeks. It can be something from work or home, but the point is to create a space where people feel safe to share their progress. You can start this practice in Slack, a team chat, or do it live in one of your virtual meetings. Either way, it is about carving out time each week to help people step away from what they didn’t get done and celebrate what they did.
3. Send a Virtual Hand-Written Thank You Note (Not an E-card!)
Just because you can’t drop a hand-written thank you note on the desk of a coworker doesn’t mean you need to revert to sending an impersonal e-card! The reason a hand-written card is often more meaningful for the recipient is the fact that the giver invested the time to write out their message and deliver it. If you want to make your message a little more meaningful than an email, invest five minutes to write your message on a card, a piece of paper, or even a sticky note. Take a photo of the card and send it to the person with a note, “Next time I see you I will give the hard copy… thank you!” Want to take it one step further? Record your thank you message in a video and send it to them. Regardless, if you send a photo of your card or a video message, you are guaranteed to make their day!
4. Implement Team “Shout Outs”
Where the Small Victories Practice (#2, above) is about helping people celebrate their own wins, the weekly Shout Out is about helping them express their appreciation to others. Carve out time in each one of your weekly or biweekly meetings for shout outs. At the start or end of your virtual meeting, ask if anyone wants to make a shout out to anyone on the team or on another team.
“I want to give a shout out to Phil who really helped me last week with my presentation. I asked him for feedback, and he picked up on two major errors, showed me how to make one of my slides much easier to understand, and it made a huge difference!”
Pro Tip: Make both the small victories and shout outs a weekly ritual. Ask the same question each week and your colleagues will start coming prepared to share.
5. Spark Gratitude with Appreciation Prompts
In these challenging times, help your people keep the focus on the positive with weekly appreciation prompts. A simple way to do this is to nudge your team to take 5 minutes to express their appreciation for the people in their lives by cutting and pasting a simple prompt into your team’s chat or sending it via email. You can start with the prompts below and create your own.
- Today, thank a person who has really supported you during this crisis.
- Today, thank someone who is going through some tough times during this crisis and still shows up each day.
- Today, thank someone at work who inspires you.
- Today, thank someone who brings fun and laughter to your day.
- Today, thank a client or customer that you really enjoy working with.
- Today, thank someone on your team who flies under the radar, but always gets the job done.
- Today, thank a person in IT, HR, or accounting.
- Today, thank someone who took feedback to heart and really worked on improving their performance.
Whether it is during this health crisis or after, with a few simple actions and a small investment of time, you can nurture a culture where your team members feel valued and appreciated every day.