Jessica Soroky Guest Post #16: Acknowledgments and The Joy of Giving

The Joy of Giving

There is a cycle at play this time of year. Around November and December marketing departments turn up the volume on the act of giving. Expensive gifts, affordable gifts, sparkly gifts, you name it and there’s a commercial for it.

I joined a new team last week, and being so close to the holidays much of our time was spent indulging in sweets and goodies that team members brought in to give to everyone.

What gift could I give to my new team that wouldn’t be forgotten as the new year rolled in?

I went back to my training, and a thousand ideas rolled through my head. Through all the different scenarios that I ran in my head I kept coming back to wins and acknowledgments.

Last week’s blog post was about the power and momentum I have found from claiming my current wins versus chasing future victories. I talked about utilizing the same behaviors on a team level to eliminate “the whole world is crashing” syndrome our business partners often bring to our meetings or ceremonies.

Then it hit me: acknowledgments. What could be a better gift than giving a team a way to come together and celebrate each other?

While I was part of another team, we had written down our wins and acknowledgments on sticky notes and put them in a designated section on our white board. Over time they piled on top of each other so thick, the bottom sticky notes weren’t strong enough to hold them all up. That pile of sticky notes became a visual reminder of all we had intended and accomplished!

I intended to share this gift with my team before everyone departed for vacations. In a daily stand up this past week, I asked for permission to share something new with the team.

I explained wins first, as anything that came true after I had intended it, and finished by sharing my definition of an acknowledgment.

I see acknowledgment as stating out loud when someone else does something either conscious or unconsciously that made my day easier or better. An acknowledgment might be of a group of people or entire team for an intention they met that affected me positively.

Here’s the key: those team members don’t have to be around for you to acknowledge them! If you believe in energy flow, like myself, then simply stating out loud the acknowledgment will reach that person in one way or another.

After I cleared off a section on my new team’s board and handed out sticky notes, opening the floor for anyone to claim any win, I got to watch as they processed this new concept.

I could see them evaluate their wins and acknowledgments, trying to determine if they were “big enough” to share with the team. Getting to watch them is fun as I get to see what I looked like when I was first introduced to the same concepts.

I used to measured, too! But wins and acknowledgments have no size limitations – they are equally wonderful. I pointed this out to my team and one by one, I could see walls began to come down. One person claimed a win, then another, and another – feeling their way to what was comfortable for them.

They congratulated each other and after about 10 minutes of constant win claiming, I asked if anyone had any acknowledgments. Silence fell on the circle. I could see this was harder for the team.

I decided that I would start it off, “I want to acknowledge the entire team for being so willing to try something new and claim their wins!”

Then one of the coolest things happened: they congratulated each other, and an analyst wrote the acknowledgment down as a team win. A few more people shared acknowledgments, some for present team members and some for others that were not present to hear their acknowledgment.

Another 10 minutes went by and I could feel the atmosphere change in a positive way. At the end, one of the team members who hadn’t spoken much cleared her throat and said, “I want to acknowledge those key players in my life who were pivoting points and believed in me when I didn’t.”

This was powerful to me: in the context of wins I was always looking to the future, never staying in the present. I realized that in the context of acknowledgments, I never left the present to recognize the past and appreciate how I got to where I am.

Inspired by one of my team members, I want to make a few acknowledgments myself here. I want to acknowledge my mentor, Scotty Bevill, for giving me the choice to change my life and seeing something in me I never saw before. And I want to acknowledge Christopher for his inclusiveness and for allowing me to share his platform to share my story. I want to acknowledge the two of these men together, for their intention to awaken the world.

If you are still searching for that perfect gift for your team, consider sharing with them a way to celebrate themselves and each other by claiming their wins and declaring their acknowledgments.

Happy Holidays to everyone — I hope they are exactly what you intend them to be.

Jessica Soroky, CSM
Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Posted in Collaboration, Leadership on 12/24/2013 01:14 am
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