Words of Affirmation: Everyone Loves a Compliment

Words of Affirmation: Everyone Loves a Compliment

You rock.  My “go-to” words of affirmation for my fellow HR consultants.

This is one of my favorite love languages: Words of Affirmation. So, what is it to affirm others?   After a super quick online search, I found two meanings:

  • To state as a fact; assert strongly and publicly


  • To offer emotional support or encouragement

I’ve written before about the necessity for gratitude and appreciation among leaders.

Happy culture companies encourage employees to be helpful, encouraging, and appreciative of one another. After all, your coworkers are the ones in the trenches with you. If they value what you do, that carries a lot of weight. But leaders and managers can’t just hope that people will show appreciation for each other. They have to talk about the value of it in team meetings. They have to make the effort to notice when an employee is particularly helpful or encouraging of other team members. They have to recognize the behavior.  And, they need to model the behavior for others.

First and foremost, it begins with yourself. Don’t go out and announce “We’re going to cultivate a culture of gratitude and affirmation in the workplace!” and start demanding that people complement each other on some quota basis. This isn’t something where you go in and dictate a culture change, no matter how much your organization may need it. This is something a leader has to do on their own, with small steps that will eventually ripple throughout the organization.

Start with little things: Say thank you to people when they give you an update about a project, send you a document you were looking for or help put the conference room back in order after a meeting. Start noticing and actually looking for opportunities to praise others, like the sales rep who closed the deal or the server who handled the irate customer smoothly and calmly. You don’t have to give them a card, buy them a fancy lunch or publicly praise them — in fact, some people are very uncomfortable with public praise. All you really have to do is communicate that you appreciate them and that you see the work they do and effort that goes into it.

In my business, I might go a whole week without seeing one or another of my associates, but I know that our connection with one another over the work we do is always greatly helped when I take the time to call or email and just say “I am so impressed with your amazing HR knowledge” or “Thank you for taking on that last minute project.” I don’t want to communicate: It’s your job, so you’ll do it or else. That doesn’t promote mutual respect and cooperation. Giving someone a little appreciation for the work they put toward making your company better does.

In some companies, there’s a sense of entitlement, like “Hey, where’s the personal chef? Why don’t we get massages every week like they do at XYZ company?” That whole attitude can be a gratitude killer. It’s still up to the leader to transform it. You begin by thanking them for what they do, and chances are it will work its way back around. Imagine hearing from employees: “Hey, thank you for the free lunch. Thank you for the flex time or for creating this cheerful work atmosphere or for giving me a chance to grow in my career.”

When you start affirming people, most will notice and recognize how much better it makes them feel about their work. Then they’ll want to pass that on. And everybody will be happier, healthier, and possibly love working even more.

Contributed by Caroline Valentine, Valentine HR

Building Referrals: How Strong are Your Referral Partners?

Contributed by Think BIG! Program

So, you build your business on referrals, eh? Then, wouldn’t it make sense to deepen those relationships for a much bigger win/win partnership?

When we ask where a company gets referrals, often we hear that they come both from clients and third-party referral partners. That’s great! Both are great sources of referrals. So here’s a question….when you think about strengthening those relationships for more or better referrals, will you deploy the same strategy for both?

Truth is, you shouldn’t. Each needs a different strategy. For clients, start with robust client service. When your clients are treated well and love their experience, they’ll make better referrers.

For third-party alliances, set clear expectations, create an open dialogue partnership, and be realistic about the depth of the partnership.

For now, let’s tackle third-party referral partnerships. We call these Channel Partners, because you both act as a channel to each other’s client bases. Don’t assume that just because you have alliances, all the work is done and you can just sit back, relax, and watch the referrals trickle in.

Like all good, long-term friendships, a Channel Partnership requires attention. Some friendships are mere acquaintances, very friendly and you’ll say ‘Hi’ when you see them. Some, however, are deeply connected, very trusted relationships where you both feel comfortable to be open, honest, and available. Friendships can run the spectrum of depth, and so do Channel Partners.

Here’s a quick guide to begin determining how deep your Channel Partner relationships run. If it’s not as strong as you’d like, there’s a simple 4-step process you can take to create more depth and get more intentional with them.

Take an honest look at the referral relationships you’ve got in your circle and determine where they fall on this pyramid. Keep in mind, you only need a few at Level 1 (Pre-sold) to build a long-term future pipeline of ideal clients. These take a bit of attention and focus to develop, so it’s not for everyone. These are the ones you’ll spend your best time with.

Level 1 (Pre-Sold) Channel Partners are those that…
• know exactly who your ideal clients are
• know to recognize when someone needs your services
• know how to introduce you and tee you up
• are open to feedback to improve their referrals to you
• can do all of the above so well, that when their clients call you, they are practically pre-sold

Want to know the 4-Step process for developing strong Channel Partners? Join one of our B2B Connect Advisory Peer Groups and work with other B2B service providers in developing your Level 1 Channel Partners. Or check our site for webinars and local networking specifically aimed at B2B networking and workshops.

Why work to get just one sale today, when you can create a 10-year pipeline of future ideal clients with just one Level 1 Channel Partner? Set a goal to deepen these partnerships and get more intentional and pro-active with each other. Your future business success will thank you.

For more information, contact Think BIG! Program, 512-686-3600.