Last week, we discussed the importance of showing appreciation. We learned why it matters as well as the message it sends. If you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here. This week, are going to lay out some practical tips and tricks for having a happy, healthy, and committed team by creating a culture of appreciation.
Every church and team has a different culture. When you are looking to appreciate your people, you need to find what works in your context. No matter your budget or your environment, however, there are six guidelines to keep in mind. Appreciation should be:
If you have spent more than 5 minutes in ministry, then you’ve probably learned that people have a special way of quickly identifying what is genuine and what is fake. They will be able to do the same thing when you show appreciation. Make sure that whatever you choose to do is true to you and your organization. Love and appreciate your people in the way God created you to do so! Your people will respect your honesty and be more receptive to your leadership.
Your appreciation should be predictable. Volunteers should know what you are looking for, what behavior is encouraged, and how they can best serve their team. Showing appreciation is a great way to reinforce the positive behaviors that you are looking for in your team. If you want people to know what to expect, then you have to commit to being consistent.
There is a huge difference between saying “Thanks for all you do!” and saying “Thank you for showing special attention to that visiting family. You made them feel comfortable and loved.” Resist the temptation to throw around generic encouragements. Your people deserve more than hallmark cards. Be specific and intentional.
In their language.
This is where knowing your people becomes really important. In the Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains that showing affection is about more than what is impactful for you, but also what is meaningful for the other person. If you want your people to feel loved, make sure you are communicating your appreciation in a way that they will understand. Be you, but remember that appreciation is about the volunteer!
Be aware of the amount of time that has passed since they showed up for that important event or went above and beyond what you asked of them. If you wait three months to say thank you, your appreciation loses its value. Make sure you are paying attention to what your team is up to so you can let them know just how significant they are.
I know of a church that has an annual award ceremony in which they announce the “Volunteer of the Year.” This is a big deal for their church. The winner of this award receives a 4-night cruise for their whole family! This is great for an annual award, but imagine what would happen if they tried to give out a cruise every single time they wanted their volunteers to know that they were appreciated? Your methods must be appropriate. Sometimes you’ll send a family on a cruise, but other times all you need to do is send out a handwritten note. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple when the situation calls for that.
There are so many things you can do to appreciate your people. Don’t worry about the size of your budget; people are motivated by more than monetary gifts. Just make sure that whatever method you choose follows these six guidelines. You’ll be amazed at what will happen to the energy and culture when your team feels appreciated.
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