Think about a time you were fully engaged – maybe this was at home, work, school, on a team, or part of a social club or non-profit organization. Hopefully, some people can honestly say they were fully engaged at work!

Have you ever considered why you were all in? My personal experience and the research I’ve done on this topic over many years leads me to believe your answer is probably multi-faceted. As human beings, if we think about it, we can identify several key drivers of engagement. In my book, Win the Heart, we do a deep dive on four primary drivers of engagement. Today, I want to focus on the most personal of the cornerstones: Affirmation.

If you actually made a list of the contributing factors to your high levels of engagement, many of you would not list affirmation. However, I contend it is still a universal element of full engagement. So why doesn’t it easily come to mind?

The feeling of affirmation is just that, a feeling and generally the outcome of the behaviors of others. But don’t miss the point: when people feel affirmed, they care more! And that’s the bottom line on engagement – how much someone cares about their work, co-workers, and the organization.

If this is true, the question for leaders is straightforward:

How do I create a workplace in which people feel affirmed?

Here’s an idea to help you get started.

Today, find someone on your team you can affirm. Don’t wait for a big event or heroic effort, do it today. Then find a way to genuinely express gratitude, thanks, or appreciation for a specific outcome, behavior, or attitude.

How should you proceed? Well, it depends; what do you know about the person? Are they more of a private person or does he or she enjoy the public attention of others? You actually get bonus points if you can match your affirmation efforts with the individual’s personal preferences. But don’t let this be a stumbling block – even if you don’t know the individual’s preferences, be bold, say a kind word, tell them privately how much you appreciate their work. Or, write a personal note – keep it short and direct. Be real and genuine, and it will make a difference.

Here’s my caution to you: now that you’ve read this, you will probably see many opportunities to affirm people. You’ll see them everywhere! Don’t be deceived, awareness alone is useless…

Affirm someone today!