It was after 1am in very remote Iraqi Army base in Southern Iraq. I was an Iraqi Army advisor helping the Iraqi Army create a logistics unit. It was not uncommon to spend 16-18 hours a day working directly with my Iraqi counterpart, so I would normally arrive back to my room late in the evening. Our higher headquarters always wanted daily reports to see what we were doing to increase the competence, capacity, and capability of the Iraqi Army.

On this late night/early morning, I was writing about some of the great accomplishments my team had made to bring together different Iraqi military units to assist each other. The logistics unit I was advising needed construction assets to build some fence. My team was aware of an Iraqi Engineering unit close by that had the assets available to assist. We utilized our relationships to create a meeting in order to work out an arrangement for assistance between the two units. Without this bridge of communication created by my team, these two units would not have been able to work together.

Early the next morning, I received an email back from our higher headquarters telling me they needed pictures to show a story board for a high ranking General. I replied that I didn’t have any pictures because we were trying to do great things and we weren’t worried about taking pictures – I was worried about getting the job done! I received a prompt reply back that they wanted pictures, period. So, I did the only thing I could do to satisfy their request: I asked all the parties involved to meet again because we had more to discuss. We conducted the meeting with a soldier from my team as the photographer and took the pictures higher headquarters wanted.

I learned two valuable lessons over those 2 days. One – always take pictures of everything! Two – make sure you tell the story of doing great things otherwise no one will ever know.

In running a data center, it’s easy to sometimes get caught up in the day-to-day challenges we face to keep our customers up and running 365 days a year. But we have to stop and recognize great work. We have an outstanding team that tirelessly works to take care of our customers. Most of the time I don’t let them know how great a job they’re doing so our customers can focus on their business while we focus on their data needs.

Here are 3 easy ways managers can show appreciation to your employees:

  1. Praise in PUBLIC: Make sure you verbally recognize Janet for their outstanding work in front of her colleagues and peers. Be specific about her accomplishments and explain the extraordinary impact she made to the organization. Everyone loves recognition for their hard work, even if it’s just a pat on the back. It’s also important for everyone to know what great looks like!
  2. Let YOUR boss know: Give credit where credit is due. If your boss gives you a task and you delegate it to Janet, make sure your boss knows Janet did all the work. Especially if it is well received. On the other hand, if it’s not on the mark, take responsibility for the error and fix it.
  3. GIVE a little: Show you appreciate Janet’s work with something small. Maybe it’s a half day off of work on Friday afternoon, nominal gift card, or a free lunch. It doesn’t cost much, and it will go a long way to make your employees more productive by showing your appreciation for their exceptional work.

So, if no one is telling the team how great they are, how do they know they’re doing great things? Managers need to tell them and tell the story! Maybe take some pictures!