In my last article, I talked about how we can build stronger relationships among team members by taking advantage of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.
While many organizations still reinforce only extrinsic motivations — mainly with productivity bonuses — it has been demonstrated that people of today are more driven by internal motivators.
The feeling of being a valuable team member is one of the motivators that help us to get the best out of ourselves. That’s why giving and receiving Kudos from teammates is a practice that we as facilitators, leaders, scrum masters, or agile coaches should advocate for.
I am also sharing a Mural template ready to be used to start spreading appreciation among your teams.
A Box Full of Gratitude
Kudo Box & Kudo Cards is one of the most powerful practices we should bring to our teams to encourage everyone to express their appreciation to others and recognize their work.
It is as simple as one person writing a Kudo card to express his/her words of gratitude, congratulations, or thank yous, sharing it with the rest of the team by putting it into a box with the rest of Kudo’s cards.
It is a very engaging practice to open a box from time to time to go over all the Kudo cards that the team as a whole or any of the team members have been collecting over time.
This practice can be challenging with remote teammates or in hybrid environments. In the following lines, I’ll narrate my experience using these Kudo Cards with people around the world.
Why Kudo Box and Kudo Cards
My first experience with Kudo Box and Kudo Cards was in 2011 while everyone worked in the same office and we were sitting close to each other.
We used to ring a bell before reading our Kudo Cards out loud to get everyone’s attention toward the appreciation we were sharing.
I remember how proud I felt every time I or a member of my team was given a Kudo recognizing our work or our actions because they had been beneficial for them.
That could happen at any time and it could be done by anyone. That is what makes this practice powerful: it’s peer-to-peer!
Apart from the formal top-down feedback with Kudo Cards, we would also encourage everyone to offer instant acknowledgment feedback. No matter your role or company position.
From the Business Coach’s perspective, I would like to add at this point that there are two types of feedback: acknowledgment feedback and constructive feedback. As opposed to the “positive or negative” approach, which can get us defensive, acknowledgment and constructive feedback are received more openly.
Nowadays, most organizations have people working remotely and in-company at the same time, and this practice could be a little challenging to facilitate.
Following I’m going to show you how to facilitate this practice online and also how to create an online Kudo Box where to collect all the instant Kudo Cards that people may give one another.
How to Start Spreading Appreciations
It’s super easy to start giving and receiving Kudos among teams.
The challenge is persistence and we — leaders, scrum masters, and agile coaches — need to lead by example and cast the first Kudo Cards in the box to encourage everybody to keep it rolling.
We can start using one of our common communication channels such as Slack, Teams, or Discord.
Then we can go to this online Kudo Cards Creator to create our appreciations which can be downloaded as images.
Choose the card style: classic, simple, fancy, or Alfred.
Then you can choose the font before writing your first online Kudo.
Do not forget to specify From, To, and Date in your card — apart from your appreciation message — you’ll need them in the future.
When it’s done click on Share my Kudo and you’ll be able to Copy a Link.
Then you can share that link on your team’s communication channel.
I recommend that you download the Kudo images that pop up to start collecting them in your Team’s Kudo Box.
You’ll need them when you decide to revive those feelings with your team.
Here is a Mural template ready to create your team’s Kudo Box!
How to Use Kudo Cards in a Retrospective Meeting
When I’m designing a team’s retrospective session I always reserve time to Close the retrospective with an activity, following the 5 phases suggested in the book “Agile Retrospectives“.
Depending on the goal of the retrospective, it could be a good idea to wrap it up with a Kudo-sharing activity that fosters gratitude among people.
It’s very energizing to close and focus on appreciation after a retrospective session — or another kind of working session.
You can use this Mural template to invite team members to give Kudos to each other using the cards embedded in it.
My learnings as a facilitator
In my experience, Kudo Box & Kudo Cards were always well received by teams, and it helps mainly goal-oriented teams in their journey to be more people-oriented.
Many times people in teams focus only on the little piece of work they need to fulfill and forget that they are valuable to the team. This contributes to working in silos and prevents people from working in a more value-driven way.
I could see with my own eyes how people who felt invisible to others started speaking up, participating more, and feeling proud of themselves and their teams after receiving several kudos.
As I mentioned before, the big challenge here is being constant in creating a culture of appreciation.
This is an easy-to-facilitate practice and also easy to implement with any kind of team or group of people — even easier if you already have a ready-to-use Kudo Box 😉.
I invite you to try it and see how Kudo Box & Kudo Cards work for you.
I strongly recommend that you put it into practice today so that you can improve it while using it.
Also, remember all teams are different and this keeps us facilitators on our toes!
I would love to hear how these ideas worked for you, so please share your experiences with me to help me improve this practice.
Good luck with your digital facilitations!