Week after week, the news is getting worse and worse—both out in the world and inside organizations. And while it’s always a best practice to tell the straight story, it’s also important to share what’s going well.
After all, good news can play a key role in helping employees focus on work that matters. Plus, inspirational communication encourages collaboration and creates productive energy.
That’s why I’m here to offer 5 ideas for emphasizing the positive:
1. Create a safe space for expressing concerns. Before you can get to the good stuff, you need to make sure you provide opportunities for helping employees release negative pressure by sharing issues.
Use your virtual meeting platform’s polling feature or whiteboard to allow participants to write as many complaints or concerns as they can think of. These complaints can be specific to a topic or just in general. Once everyone has shared, you can see if any can be addressed. If not, the idea is to express frustrations, then, as the song goes, let them go.
2. Highlight how employees have overcome obstacles. In his book, “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories,” Christopher Booker explains that one of the most compelling stories is “overcoming the monster.” It goes like this: The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force which threatens the protagonist and/or protagonist’s homeland. (Such diverse movies as Dracula and Star Wars are based on this plot concept.)
Our organizations certainly face a lot of challenges these days. So employees are hungry for examples of how a team solved a seemingly impossible supply shortage. Or how a colleague met a customer’s acute need. These stories are compelling because they appeal to our desire to overcome a significant obstacle.
3. Show gratitude. A.J. Jacobs, author of Thanks a Thousand, writes, “gratitude is one of the keys to a life well lived. As Cicero says, it is the chief of virtues.” Jacob cites research that demonstrates that “gratitude’s psychological benefits are legion: It can lift depression, help you sleep, improve your diet, and make you more likely to exercise. A recent study showed gratitude causes people to be more generous and kinder to strangers.”
That’s why simply saying thanks is so powerful. Especially now, coach leaders to share their appreciation—even for small things. (Repeat after me: “Thank you for being here.”)
4. Double down on recognition. In good times and bad, employee recognition plays a vital role in improving engagement. However, even when things are going well, studies show that organizations fall short in delivering the credit employees crave. In fact, 45% of employees say they have not been recognized in the past six months.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to emphasize recognition. If you have a formal recognition program, now’s a great time to promote it. And coach leaders to use the program to give people praise—or improvise their own shout-outs.
One key element of any meaningful recognition effort: managers, of course. Create tools and advice to show managers why recognition is important and suggest a variety of ways to praise and encourage their direct reports.
5. Create connections. In a work-from-home, we’re-so-isolated time, employees increasingly crave their workplace community. “Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about and recognized by others,” according to The Harvard Business Review. “It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.”
How can you build community right now? Here are several ideas:
- Use your internal social media platform to bring people together.
- Encourage leaders to model the behavior: start conversations, create groups and comment on colleagues’ thoughts and threads.
- Invite employees to share videos, photos, quotes or any other content. Borrow an idea from the actor John Kraskinski, who is using the hashtag #somegoodnews to invite people to post uplifting content.
Do you have other ideas about how to emphasize the positive? Please share your thoughts, using this hashtag: #employeegoodnews.