When I was a LT straight out of my Officer Basic Course (21 years old), I was a driven, hungry young leader. I was so eager to go “conquer the world” and finally get to apply everything I learned from my years of training and studying: Troop Leading Procedures; issuing OPORDs (operation orders); leading recon teams; setting ambush lines; taking care of soldiers, etc.
And as this impressionable, young officer, I was very eager to perform well. I sought out positive feedback from my team and Chain of Command, so I could get an indication of how I was performing. I knew I needed guidance to be a good leader, and I thirsted for ‘course-correcting feedback’ if I wasn’t on the right track.
Back then, my direct boss was the Company Commander of the 140-man infantry unit. He was also a ‘go-getter’ but had very few words to guide his teammates. The most I got after running phenomenal Live Fire exercises was “Good job, LT Kim. You’re doing well. Keep it up.”
Yes, those words made me feel proud of myself at the time, but I got nothing out of it. I didn’t know what I was doing right or how to repeat my success. In the end, I just figured that I should continue to give everything 100% all the time. That logic sorta works... until you get burned out or disillusioned by the Army (but that’s another topic.)
Most of us show our appreciation to others this same way, whether in our companies, teams, or even in our families. We tend to speak with very general phrases like, “Awesome job, you killed it!” or “Really proud of your work on that presentation; you nailed it.”
While praise and appreciation like this can boost some “feel good” hormones in our bodies, there may be a better way to achieve the same.
Consider showing appreciation of others by articulating the impact they make. This is for the effect they achieve through specific actions. In order to do this, there are two parts: 1) you must specify the exact thing you are recognizing them for; and 2) determine how these actions led to a positive outcome.
For example, instead of “Really great project you managed. The bosses are proud of your work with the team.” Say something like, “You really did well managing that project on time and under budget. Because of your communications schedule, everyone on the team knew exactly what they’re doing and how they fit in the overall picture; they were able to take ownership of their tasks and really find ways to collaborate and cut costs! Your work allowed the company to surprise the client with a more cost-effective option, and they are ecstatic. They’ll be doubling their first order!”
And that’s an easy one. You can also show this ‘impact-based appreciation’ in your personal lives as well. “Hey [spouse], I really enjoyed dinner. The meatballs you made were so moist and flavorful, it tasted like we were back in Italy! I really appreciate how you spend your time and energy in preparing these amazing meals, it makes the family feel cared for.”
Or, “Hey Boyd, great job punching that dude in the face. Your fights are inspirational and so is your desire to impact those who are struggling to walk again through your foundation. You’ve also motivated me to determine how I can find my passions and help make a difference, according to my beliefs.”
Whatever the outcome the person has achieved, appreciation and gratitude is best exemplified when demonstrating the impact of their actions. It also provides positive feedback to the recipient, to better understand what your expectations are for future success!
MilSpec Capital is a boutique headhunting firm that connects High-Impact Veterans to our client companies in various industries. Our Veterans typically have 5-15 years of private sector experience, in addition to their successful track record of Leadership.