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Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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Should I tell my team they’re stars?


Someone told me the other day that they never tell anyone that they’re a star. Which drew my attention to the fact that I do. All the time. I even tried it with my French teacher but apparently it’s not a phrase the French use. She suggested I use instead, “Tu es un as” (You are an ace). I think I’ll have to be very careful not to mix my languages. 

Anyway, this got me thinking about praise in general, how often we recognise stars in our teams and organisations and, perhaps, more importantly, which stars we notice. 

Look out of the window. If it’s daylight, you might only be able to see one star, the sun, and even that might be obscured by cloud. The fact you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not still there though, doing some pretty vital work. Believe me, you’d soon notice if it wasn’t.

If it’s night, you might see a lot more stars. But still, some will be a lot more visible than others.
Here’s the question I’d like you to ask yourselves the next time you’re looking at the night sky. Do the stars that shine most brightly, really shine more brightly? Or is it that they are simply closer and therefore easier to see? What about the ones you can’t see because you’re looking in the wrong direction? Or those that can’t be seen at all from your side of the planet?

It’s the same in organisations. 

Whilst I think it’s important to recognise the stars in our teams and organisations, it’s also important to be aware that we may not see them all from where we’re sitting. 

Just as our focus is likely to fall on the nearest stars in our galaxy, our focus at work can easily be drawn to what those nearest to us are contributing. The equally great, or perhaps even greater, contributions of others might be obscured or hidden. Or so far removed from our day-to-day work that they’re difficult to spot.

So, what can leaders do to try to ensure praise is balanced and to ensure that as many stars are seen and recognised as possible?

Be Aware
The first thing, I think, is simply to be aware of the world beyond your immediate team and to recognise that your view might be limited. Be aware too that people close to you might be quicker to criticise other people or teams they work with, than they are to praise. Be mindful of silo mentalities that might mean other’s efforts are belittled or ignored.

Get Out and About
Take time to get out and see what’s going on beyond your normal horizon. If you work remotely, drop in on people by video to find out what they’re working on. Ask questions; adopt the mindset of an inquisitive explorer.

Make it Easy to Get Recognised
Create frameworks that make it easy for good news stories to be shared. Encourage people across the organisation to throw a wider spotlight on their own local stars with rewards and public acknowledgment. 

Encourage Managers
Encourage local leaders to share good news stories; to draw attention to the stars in their vicinity. Sometimes people can be reluctant to do this out of fear their best people might be poached, so make sure that local team leaders and managers get the recognition they deserve too for the work they’ve done to help their local stars shine more brightly.

Remember, there are a lot of stars out there. The stars that shine most brightly in your orbit, though important, might not be the only stars worth noticing. 

Of course, this leads on to how we give positive feedback. As you’d expect, there’s loads of material in Trainers’ Library to ensure all feedback is specific and given in a meaningful, constructive way that, in this case, ensures each star knows what they’re appreciated for. 

Until next time…

Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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