OPINION: The little things count towards office morale

GERALDINE PEACOCK, chief executive of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

We are a gloomy lot us Brits: there's nothing we like better than a good moan. Celebrating success is just not in our comfort zone. As a nation, we are quick to point out shortcomings, but slow to recognise achievement. We're also not good at enjoying life and, dare I say it, having fun.

In the work environment, this is counterproductive: you see the problems and the reasons not to do things. Far more effective is a "can do

approach where problems are challenges and energy derives from the recognition of mutual worth.

In the voluntary sector the recognition of commitment, loyalty and achievement is an important motivator, in many cases more so than financial rewards.

So, in my book, the acid test of a good manager is one who has the ability to recognise the things that work in their organisation and reward them.

When I first joined Guide Dogs, I introduced the concept of "Sparkles".

I encouraged staff to write to me outlining something that made them feel good (or sparkle) at work and which could be shared with the rest of staff.

These positive experiences soon turned into something bigger and now feature in our "cascade

videos, which staff produce at regular intervals to recognise good practice and keep everyone informed about what is going on.

Little things really can make a difference, starting with just saying "thank you

more often. Simple things are important such as remembering staff birthdays, being genuinely interested in people and remembering aspects about their families and hobbies. You can learn a lot by walking around the offices or having a coffee with your colleagues.

Be prepared to join in, even if it means going in fancy dress to the Christmas party (yes, I was that Teletubby). Give credit and don't hog the limelight; good move by the chief executive at a recent awards ceremony who did not go on stage but encouraged his project workers to collect the trophy.

Finally, we always finish our corporate team meetings, no matter how tough, by going round the table and everyone identifying something that worked well that month.

The Beatles sang "the best things in life are free". This is true - it costs nothing to say thank you. We just need to do it more often.

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