Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation: Insights from Wendy Hanson (Ep. #83)

Published on
September 5, 2023
No items found.
Follow Our Podcast

Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation: Insights from Wendy Hanson (Ep. #83)

Welcome to Building Better Managers, the podcast that explores the important work of managers, hosted by Wendy Hanson. In this episode, Wendy takes center stage to discuss one of her favorite topics: gratitude, recognition, and appreciation. Join her as she delves into the heart of these essential values and their impact on creating a thriving workplace culture.

Meet Wendy Hanson, co-founder of Better Manager. She's not only a seasoned coach and educator but also a firm advocate for creating a positive workplace environment. Wendy wears many hats, and one of her most important roles is being the Chief of Culture and Community at Better Manager. This episode gives you an inside look into her passion and commitment to fostering growth, camaraderie, and appreciation.

In this special solo episode, Wendy shares the captivating story of how Better Manager's journey began back in 2017. It all started with their coaching team – a tight-knit community where gratitude, recognition, and appreciation were at the core. Over time, these values spread like wildfire, infusing the entire company with a spirit of mutual support and celebration. Wendy's storytelling style takes you behind the scenes, revealing the heartwarming impact these values have had on Better Manager's incredible journey.

Meet Wendy Hanson

  • Leading Leadership Coach: Wendy Hanson, co-founder of Better Manager, excels as a leadership coach. Her focus on growth, management skills, and team appreciation drives her impact.
  • Chief of Culture & Community: Wendy leads as Chief of Culture & Community at Better Manager, shaping collaborative workplaces through strategic insights.
  • Gratitude Advocate: Wendy champions gratitude and recognition's impact on engagement and productivity. Her influence is felt through dynamic narratives and unwavering advocacy.

View the episode transcript

Intro  0:02  
Welcome to building better managers, the better manager podcast with Wendy Hanson, where we talk with top leadership professionals about strategies you can use today to create a happier, highly engaged and more productive workplace. Now, here's your host better manage your co founder, Wendy Hanson.

Wendy  0:24  
Greetings everybody. Well, today is going to be a different type of podcast, I am not interviewing someone. Today, I'm going to talk to you about my favorite subjects, gratitude, recognition and appreciation. And I'm also going to take the opportunity to tell you a little bit more about better manager as we go along. Because that I usually don't get to do. And I think all of it will be so relevant to you that are interested in this topic. Because it really is been so instrumental to us at better manager. When we started the company in 2017. Karen Benz joined early on who's our VP of coaching, there's a podcast by Karen, if you want to look back into our podcasts, and we wanted to develop a sense of community, around our coaches and our facilitators who work on our programs. So be able to look at how do we really encourage gratitude, recognition and appreciation with this team was very important. And they have done it, they reach out to each other, they help each other. And we have built a whole community of very supportive coaches who really support each other. And now we've moved it through the whole company. Well, I'll tell you a little bit more about that as we go on. And it really is very exciting to see a company that's been able to look at these values of giving gratitude, giving appreciation, and recognizing people for what they do. Now, I was fortunate recently to go to the work human conference down in San Diego. And I had a chance to talk to folks from different organizations and learn a lot from the Gallup organization. So I'm going to share some stats which will show up in the show notes, because I think you will see why these subjects for managers and leaders in companies are really so important. So employees who strongly agree that they have received recognition or appreciation for doing good work in the last seven days are three times as likely to strongly agree that the mission and purpose of their organization, make them feel important. We can see from the statistics, and this is from the Gallup organization, that this is not just a nice to have an accompany. It's a must have. And what happens when we recognize and appreciate our people, well, leaders want change and recognition has the potential to focus the organization's strategic priorities. So leaders that are looking for a change and looking for people to really stand up have that vision, they're gonna see that if people get more recognition and appreciation, and employees need energy, we're working harder than ever these days. So recognition provides direction for what really matters. And that gives them energy, people will move ahead. And organizations recognition can lower barriers to change, and create possibilities. Everyone wants to be on a winning team. And everybody needs to know that they matter. So these things are really stellar. When we can use these statistics, let me tell you a little bit more about exactly what recognition is. Recognition refers to praising, acknowledging, expressing gratitude for employees for what they do. Like thank you for reaching those sales goals. Thank you for finishing that project. It's about what you do. And we celebrate that, especially sales has a great way of celebrating that and that's always part of a sales culture, and recognition from the Gallup organization. When they looked at this, they gave us some great statistics. 27% of employees say they receive recognition from their peers at least a few times a week. So that's about a fourth of everybody get some recognition, peer saying, Wow, that was great. Thanks for meeting that deadline. Only a quarter of them once a week. 40% of employees say they receive recognition from a manager, supervisor or other leader a few times a year or less. I'm going to repeat that one. 40% of employees say they receive recognition from a manager, supervisor or other leader a few times a year or less. So our leadership really needs to look at this as an important issue. Because we all know what happens at the top, in the C team and with the CEO, really is a reflection of what will happen in the organization. And when people feel the goodness of getting recognized, then they will do it to others. And 21% of employees say they receive recognition from a manager, supervisor, other leader, at least a few times a week. So as we get in the organization, and people look at their manager 21%. But that's not a lot, get recognition, once a week. So there are opportunities for us to improve in these areas. And those who have given recognition, because there's something about the neuroscience of even giving it makes people feel better, if they have given it in the last few months are more likely to love their job 75 versus 48% recommended their company, if they've given recognition 83% and identify as highly engaged. And they say they have a positive work experience. So taking that time to recognize people's successes, is extremely valuable for a company to move ahead. And we know and on so many podcasts, I talk to folks and say, you know what's a big difference that things need to happen in companies. And we know from looking at any of the research, you know, look at LinkedIn, it's about the culture in a company. Now that's going to make the difference. We have good strategy. But if we have a good culture that will make all the difference in the world. So a little bit about the quality of a manager is the lowest hanging fruit for soaring customer success. That's why a better manager, we really we provide one on one coaching, we provide group training and group coaching. Because the more we can help managers be successful at their job, and learn these skills, learn the skills of how to be a good coach, how to give recognition, how to bring your team together,

how to celebrate people for who they are, because there's a big difference with appreciation. It's more about who you are as a person, what you bring to the table. When we feel appreciated. It strikes even deeper than recognition. It's about who I am. I've been coaching a number of leaders lately, and they've been having team meetings and trying to have their people that are working remotely feel valued and feel connected. So one suggestion that I've made is have an acknowledgment circle, on a team meeting, get people, everybody looking at their zoom all on their own zoom, and take one person and say, what do we appreciate about Sarah, and a few people can chime in and say I appreciate that. Sarah is always trying to be positive and really reaches out and provide support. I appreciate that Sarah loves to go out and play after work. And it makes a difference because I can see her energy when she is back the next day and can share some of her experiences. So appreciating someone for who they are not just what they do, is really important. Now, a podcast that I did a while back was with a wonderful colleague of mine, Mike Robbins, who's been on a podcast with me before you can actually look it up. And it's number 77. If you look at the list of the podcasts on building better managers, it was called embracing diversity for success, creating an inclusive workplace with Mike Robbins. And Mike tells a wonderful story and has written so many books about appreciation, gratitude and recognition. And I'll give you a quick summary. But if you listen to Mike's TED talk, and if you just look up TED talks, and look Mike Robbins, you'll find it his first TED Talk and it really struck a chord with so many people. He was a professional athlete, a baseball player, and he was the pitcher. I'm not going to do a good job on this sports. And people kept getting run so we had a lot of errors for errors. And finally, the manager came off and sent him off and replaced him. So he goes back into the dugout and you can't recognize Mike for what he did, because he made so many errors, and he ended up getting sent back into the dugout. But he said, what a difference it would have made. If somebody just acknowledged and appreciated and said, good effort. Wow, it's tough empathize with being sent back out. Instead, everybody just looked away. And Matt is so discouraging. So he learned a big lesson from that, that he shares in all of his work. And if you listen to his TED Talk, Mike Robbins on TED, he tells the story, of course, beautifully. So let me tell you a little bit more about the brain. And why this is so important. You know, sometimes we think when we say, Oh, the nice to haves of gratitude, recognition and appreciation. But when we exhibit those, when we share those, when people feel those, it has an impact on our brains. So I'm going to give you a little bit of brain science behind it. Because those of you who are like, Oh, show me, you know, that you're not going to take it for granted, I don't blame you. But I want you to know that it really is powerful. So when someone is recognized or appreciated, it triggers reward pathways in the brain, primarily the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter. And it gives you a feeling of satisfaction, and positive emotional response. And when we have that when the dopamine comes out, and then oxytocin is another one. But when you get the dopamine and you get the oxytocin, you say, Oh, that feels good. And your brain records it. And you say, I need to repeat this, because it's really great when somebody acknowledges Me, and you'll see people change their posture, they really, it will make a difference, because their brain will say, and their brain will want to have that repeated. And so we can't think that that's not important that we begin to build those pathways. And then there's other feel good transmitters. Serotonin is one of them, too. And they contribute to happiness, but we need to bring them out in the brain. And we need to have people feel like this is important.

And when we recognize and appreciate people, we help build their intrinsic motivation to do something. If you never get feedback on a project, or someone says you're not doing a good job, someone doesn't say you're doing a great job. But they just either don't answer or they say, Okay, that's good. Or they don't even say thank you, they don't show even minor things to show gratitude, then you're just not going to want to work so hard. But if you know that people appreciate who you are, and what you do, and your contributions, and they take just a minute to say thank you. And, and when you appreciate someone, just don't say thank you say what it's for. You really landed this project on time, and I love the way you took the time to look at it. You know, think about in your own situation. And take a minute now think what are some things that you've maybe not given people credit for and the way you could have? How could you go back now, and or go forward, make sure that as you go forward, you're able to say, hmm, I need to recognize people for this, and I need to appreciate them. Because I haven't taken the time to do that. Because in business, we seem to say we're still moving on, and it's part of your job. I've actually coached people that say, but that's what I pay them for. Not realizing when somebody does their work. It's not only what you pay them for, but you want them to know that the quality or what they're doing is good so that they want to repeat it. I was so interested in getting into sharing my passions that I didn't do what I do with all guests, and introduction of myself. So I'm going to do a quick introduction, so you understand where I come from on all this. And then I'm going to share a little information about some of the coaching and group training and group coaching services, we offer a better manager, because I think it will give you a sense of why this is so important to me this topic. I am one of the cofounders of better manager when we founded the company back in 2017. And I'm also now chief of culture and community, which is such an honor. So I get to work with all the teams on how do we make this culture happen. So I have a master's degree from Antioch New England. And I was certified as a coach through the coaches training institute, back in 1999.

My first 20 years I was in education. And I did a lot of developing businesses to help people with differently abled skills, and some really different to get job skills. In fact, I used to make popery back in the 80s, with my team, and we had flowers that were donated by funeral homes that were going to waste. And our students that were severely handicapped, could separate the flowers and do that, and we could drive them, and then give them back to the people and sell them. So in any kind of business, whatever you're in, you need to be an entrepreneur. And I think I brought that to better manager, it really has made a difference to me to be able to work with so many wonderful people in our company. And we realized, because we started doing primarily coaching back in 2017, that coaching was great, but we needed to fill in the gaps with different skills, because we knew that managers at all levels were the ones that were making things happen. And back, when we started, we were really focused on middle managers. Because if you're a senior level person, you could get all the coaching, you want it. But if you're a middle manager, you weren't always getting at, and new managers weren't getting it at all. So we did coaching, we reached a lot of people, we have an unbelievable success rate in that area. And then we said, we need to fill in the gaps of knowledge that people have, and especially for new managers. So one of the first programs we created was called Essential conversations. And that is still going strong. Because the first thing that you need to understand as a manager is how to have one on one conversations. And all the people that I've coached recently, may say, Oh, I don't do it consistently, or, yeah,

I do it, but I have to cancel them a lot. Well, we share the information on how to have a one on one conversation, why they are important. And what are some things that you talk about in one on one conversations, because folks will sometimes say, I just give them all the updates on the information that I have. And really a one on one conversation is about hearing from your team member, you should only be talking maybe 10% of the time, but your team member has an opportunity to ask questions, it's not a download from the manager. So we really begin to develop that skill and how to have successful one on ones. And then we do some basic coaching conversations. That's the next section after one on ones. And coaching conversations are really being able to stand back and in a way help people find their own answers. So whether somebody comes to you and says, I need to know how to fix this, I've got a problem. Rather than just say, well, here's what you do. Because then every time they have a problem, they're going to come back to you. And they're going to ask the same question. But you say, Well, what's getting in your way? What would success look like for this? What is something that you tried, but maybe didn't work? And then you can say when you pull out their thoughts, then you can say, I have a suggestion? Can I share it? Because too many managers are too quick at saying no, let me just give me an answer. And then I can go on to my next problem. But helping people think for themselves, and then they will learn how to coach so that they coach members of their team. And then the next session that we have in essential conversations is about having difficult conversations. Well, I must say that might be the most popular one. I've coached many senior leaders over the years who say I don't give constructive feedback very well. And we don't call it negative feedback. Because everybody needs feedback. They need positive and then they need constructive. But folks don't always know how to get into that conversation. So we have created with the help of crucial conversations, a difficult conversation planner. And that planner helps you think through what is important. What do I need to relate to somebody? What is so critical about this, and then helps you develop a little script for yourself. That won't be verbatim, but it will get your brain organized to be able to have that conversation. And it has helped so many people that have tried it. So that's the third session in essential conversations. And then the fourth session is career Development conversations. We hear that a lot that people say, I give a conversation about my career once a year. And we know that careers are not a ladder anymore. They're climbing wall.

And so we want to be able to have that climbing wall of I could learn this. And I could learn that, and what are the next things that you want to do, so that you don't get people just looking for promotions, they're looking to grow. So that career conversations is really important. And we have sessions on strategic leadership, and lots of group coaching, that even after a cohort of people, maybe 12 People go through essential conversations, they could actually go through a group coaching, to share what they learned. What are the things now that we've waited a couple of weeks after that session ended? What did you learn what have you put into action. And lately, we have a lot of sessions on change, because we know organizations are going through change. And to be able to help people think that through is really important. So I'm just giving you a quick synopsis of some of the things that we do here at better manager, and how the gratitude, recognition and appreciation. It's kind of built into all we do. And because I'm lucky enough to be chief of culture and community, I was able to establish a culture committee, and this committee is five people from across the organization. And we meet periodically to think, what are some of the activities that we can do, to really make sure that everybody is feeling our culture, because our culture is really important to us. We developed back in January with our leadership team, we looked at what are the things that we want to hold dear, as part of the culture, we came up with five different things. We collectively are purpose driven, and strategic, we collaborate to produce the best outcome, we honor inclusivity. So people bring their full self to work, we demonstrate compassionate care. And we exhibit playfulness in our work. So this committee works on how do we bring all those alive? What activities can we do, we actually have a program that we're going to be starting out, which helps connect people to have 15 minute conversations, and not just about work about hobbies. If people share some of their personal life, they're more likely to be invested in their work the company, the Gallup organization did research for many years, and people that have a best friend at work, are more likely to be happy at work and less likely to leave. So it really helps retention. We've set up happy hours, we have town halls, if anybody would like to talk to me about that, you can just really reach out, go to our website, vendor manager dot CEO, there's a little button that you can push to talk to somebody, and I'm happy to talk to you, if you're right through there, you can talk to one of our team members, one of my wonderful sales colleagues, we don't sell, we consult with companies, we make them partners, we have a great customer success team. So there's so many things that you could learn if you just reach out. And if you're just curious, be curious and see what's out there. So I invite you to do that. Go on to our website, better manager.co. And check us out and have a conversation with somebody.

So I want to thank you so much for joining me today. I hope this was helpful. I hope that you took some things away that you're going to be able to put into action. It's the awareness of the impact it has. When you use gratitude, you say thank you to people for what they've done. recognition and appreciation. So sharing some of those statistics that I've learned have really made a difference to know this is powerful, and to know the neuroscience behind what we do. So we'll have this in the show notes. But I encourage you to reach out to me if you have any questions, love to talk to you. Just go to our website, and you can find who you want to talk to. Thank you so much for being with me today. And I look forward to continuing these conversations. And I will be interviewing guests. That's so much fun, because I learned so much from others. So as we go forward, we're gonna do a lot more of that. And we put out consistently two podcasts a month. So stay tuned. Keep us on your channel. Thank you for what you do in the world. Take care.

Outro  25:03  
For more information, show notes and any downloads for today's podcast please visit us at better manager.us/podcast Be sure to join us again and help us continue to build better managers with another insightful interview.

L'avenir du travail est arrivé. Il est temps de prospérer.