When the University of Maryland University College Graduate School of Management & Technology e-Business and Project Management Program adopted my book, The Power of Acknowledgment, for one of their courses, I began leading live, interactive online seminars once a semester. Several students sent me discussion questions ahead of time. These questions from these adult learners in critical jobs have been very thought provoking, and I wanted to share my thoughts on one of them. Others to follow...
Question: "How do I handle a supervisor that doesn't give acknowledgments? ... It has gotten so bad, that I'm happy when he doesn't come to work and I have to deal with his supervisor who has a totally different management style. I think you may have some ideas that I can use."
And I do:
â€¢ Create a culture of appreciation in your organization. You personally can be a champion of change in your team's or department's or your company's culture. I know this sounds difficult, but you can start the process by making sure to acknowledge both your peers and the people who report to you in a heartfelt and authentic way. Your example will start generating a desire to "pay it forward" and after a time your manager won't be able to ignore the shift he or she is seeing around him or her.
â€¢ Acknowledge upwards! I believe our managers or bosses are among the most under-acknowledged people in the workplace. And even a boss who doesn't give acknowledgment can see and feel the impact of being acknowledged truthfully and in a heartfelt manner. And yes, you may have to really search for that acknowledgment but I promise you, something worthy of being acknowledged for is there.
â€¢ Speak as off the record as possible to your "grand-boss." (i.e. your manager's manager.) There is some risk here of word getting back to your manager but it depends on how desperate you are, in order to see if this approach makes sense.
â€¢ Know how much you can take. If the lack of acknowledgment and appreciation is too devastating for you, you may have to request a transfer to another department or even leave the company. This is not an action to consider except as a last resort.
E-mail me your questions about establishing a culture of appreciation throughout your organization, and about using the power of acknowledgment to create miracles on project teams, in your departments and throughout your organization. You will be amazed at the results once you start using the power of acknowledgment.
Editor's Note: Judy Umlas is author of The Power of Acknowledgment, published by International Institute for Learning Inc. through IIL Publishing, New York.