By Sarah Sims
Both personally and professionally, the fall tends to be a crazy time of year. It’s annual endowment reporting time, football season, back-to-school, endless special events and so much more. It’s easy to lose sight of team morale as we face long days and lengthy to do lists. But our teams need management, leadership, and support more now than ever. Taking a few minutes out of each day and week to infuse fun, humor, recognition, and team building will pay huge dividends in employee engagement and stress levels. Below is a collection of some of our favorite ideas. While some of these are common sense, sometimes we just need a reminder and some inspiration!
Celebrate Occasions: Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries with a team lunch, group card, or a group video. Celebrate each other just as we would our donors! (Our team celebrates each of our birthdays with a group lunch – we each have our favorite places! We also created a book club and have BYOL once a month to discuss.)
Light-hearted Communication: Not all communication has to be serious and formal! Adopt a casual tone in some of your emails and don’t be afraid to use humor, levity, and wit. It can be refreshing and energizing for the recipient.
Kudos: Had a great week as a team? Tell them! Send an email on Friday that says “hey, you all had a great week for X, Y, and Z reasons and I really appreciate you”.
Share Feedback: Positive affirmation is rare these days – make sure and share when a team member is recognized or called out for something great. Spread the joy and inspire the rest of the team!
Participate: Does your organization have holiday celebrations or team competitions? Then make sure your team joins in and doesn’t sit the bench! (My team enters the Halloween decorating contest, had pictures with Santa to enter the holiday card competition, and gets in every photo booth at every event!)
Competition: Periodically set a fun challenge or competition for your team! (The UF Donor Relations team played black out bingo for the 2018 Winter Olympics, has an annual In-Box Clean-Up Challenge, created a Game of Thrones bracket competition, and is currently forming our Walktoberfest Team for health and wellness month!)
Service to Others: Encourage your team members to take a few minutes each week and recognize others – send a quick email thanking someone for their help, write a handwritten note to a colleague, let another supervisor know when a member of their team went above and beyond. Also consider the external community where you work and live – consider a group service project or volunteer together. During our team retreat, we spent a couple hours this year volunteering at the Humane Society and had an amazing time together!
All this to say, we need to take time to practice what we preach. We create amazing giving experiences and recognition for our organizations’ donors every day – let’s invest in our teams as well. Happiness and joy are infectious.
We would love to hear how you interact, engage, and recognize your teams as well!
This post was written by Sarah Sims. Sarah is a consultant and educator with the DRG Group and serves as the Executive Director of Donor Relations at the University of Florida. Sarah is a leader in the donor relations field with more than 15 years’ experience. Drawing from her strengths in strategy and execution, Sarah is always looking for ways to turn challenges into opportunities.