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The Magic of Verbal Affirmation and Emotional Connection In Management Roles

Great managers create great team members.

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Acknowledgment for good performance is a fundamental human need and every good manager worth their salt knows this is one of the building blocks of a cohesive . Verbal affirmation is essential to establishing secure emotional bonds with team members. These bonds provide trust, security and a sense of support in the face of ever-changing business circumstances. Verbally affirming team members promotes forgiveness, engagement and boosts morale.

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In my book Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life I talk about the deep importance verbal affirmation has on influencing people. When team members are consistently told they are doing an exceptional job it motivates them to perform even better. If managers don’t use their voices, their team members cannot connect with them. Emotional connection is a huge part of being successful for both managers and team-members. Magic happens when team members feel emotionally connected to their manager and their other team members.

A recent Gallup Poll found that approximately two out of three people receive zero workplace recognition in a given year. This highlights a recent finding from the U.S. Department of Labor that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they “don’t feel appreciated.”

Psychologist and author Bobb Biehl directs us to the eight reasons why people do what they do.

1. People want to feel loved.

Team members want to feel they are easy to care for, manage and support. Exceptional managers focus on being nurturing to each individual team member. They make time to be present to and attuned with each team member's specific needs. They guide them and build them up with healthy doses of and encouragement. The more heartfelt and authentic their verbal affirmation is, the more powerful the impact it will carry for their team members. It’s undeniable how being unconditionally loved is received and what it does to inspire the desire to perform in the individuals receiving it.

Related: 3 Ways We Jeopardize Our Jobs by Trying to Be Likable -- and What We Can Do About It

2. Significant

Each team member deserves to hear how they make a positive difference in their organization. When team members are succeeding, managers must use their voices to give the appropriate . Doing this gives the message to their team members that their presence and contribution make the overall of the team better and healthier. There is no greater compliment than for individuals to hear they are viewed as an important and necessary assets to the company. A feeling of significance leads team members to feel the depth of their value, which only serves to increase their to perform.

3. Admired

Individual team members each come equipped with their own unique set of gifts that are worthy of admiration. When managers make team members feel as if they are people others should aspire to emulate, it not only motivates them to work harder but it also motivates them to step-up to be leaders in their own right. It is important for managers to encourage their team members into mentoring positions as often as possible. This type of affirmation elevates productivity and feelings of being “seen” and valued for their unique talents.

Related: 10 Healthy Habits for People Who Work Remotely

4. Recognized

It’s a very special experience for team members to be publicly applauded and recognized by name at a banquet or meeting. It is also important to make sure to individualize recognition for it to be as meaningful and authentic as possible. For example, some team members may resist being publicly acknowledged. If this is the case, make sure to take the time to acknowledge these individuals privately with some form of a reward to support your words of affirmation.

5. Appreciated

The two most important words a manager can say to their team members is “Thank You.” When managers verbally acknowledge their appreciation they must make sure to include the details of what they appreciate about them. In doing this, the verbal affirmation is not simply used for flattery but to directly affirm evidence-based work performance. Managers must go into the details of what their team members did and how what they contributed made such a big difference. When team members can tie their activity and efforts to how and why it helped the organization, morale rises. Verbal appreciation also boosts self-esteem. Evidence shows that happy team members are more productive than those who are unacknowledged or apathetic.

6. Secure

For team members to perform at top quality, they need to be given some type of verbal semblance of security and protection around things such as their salary, commisstions, bonuses, insurance packages, and position in the company. This is especially important if the company is experiencing financial difficulties. Verbal affirmation provides team members with worthy incentives, keeping them motivated to perform. These affirmations also serve to make them more resilient when traversing through their tougher times.

Related: Women Are Still Not Being Offered Management Positions at Equal Rates, But There's Hope, Sheryl Sandberg Says

7. Respected

It is vital to invite worthy team members to give their input in meetings or to ask them for their insights and analysis. This type of verbal acknowledgement communicates to them that they are perceived as valuable, experienced and intelligent. Inviting this type of participation delves deep into their psyche that they are capable, worthy and necessary for the team’s success, which makes them feel good and more motivated to continue growing and excelling in their role.


Acceptance is essential to human beings. It is deeply important to feel we belong to group of people and/or to a purpose larger than ourselves. Managers must make time to have lunch meetings with team members individually and collectively. Exceptional managers give their team members one-on-one attention whenever they need help, support or guidance which provides them with a feeling of acceptance. When team members are verbally acknowledged and included as an important part of a bigger picture they feel celebrated individually and collectively. Feelings of being accepted increase levels of commitment.This serves to not only deepen bonds between team members, but to also deepen the bond that team members feel to the overall role of the team itself.

The absence of giving rewards and affirmation to team members who have performed and behaved well will prove to have negative effects. Team members will begin to underperform. They will feel no motivation or reason to exert extra effort when performing in their role. They will be more likely to take unwarranted breaks, mindlessly surf the internet, arrive at work late or ignore rules. These negative effects often bleed over into other team members. A team member may complain, spreading negative energy and pass blame to others. In the final act, a team member who feels unrewarded and under-affirmed will opt to leave the organization. Therefore, to be an exceptional manager of a team means giving rewards and affirmation to worthy team members as an ongoing activity. Great managers create great team members. Rewarded and acknowledged team members make their manager look great.

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