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March 5, 2024 Women in Digital

In the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives, it’s easy for our achievements to sometimes fade into background noise, drowned out by the everyday cacophony. We too often overlook the essential task of acknowledging and recording these moments which can go a long way in boosting confidence, especially when you need a pick-me-up! Sound like you? Well, we have a second question for you: Have you ever heard of an encouragement bank?

In February 2024, Women in Digital held an event in Melbourne powered by Corporate Member, Cisco featuring Ai Mawdsley, Fiona Boyd, Vinojini Nair and MC’d by Helen Fridell. The topic was: lessons on the career climb (is it really a ladder?)

Among all the incredible insights and advice shared by our panel, one thing that really stuck with us was a piece of advice from Ai Mawdsley, Chief Operating Officer of Private Media and 2023 Women in Digital Employer of the Year Winner. What is that you ask? An encouragement bank.

What is an encouragement bank?

An encouragement bank is essentially a collection of compliments or positive affirmations. But it’s really much more than that; it is a deliberate practice of self-care, self-empowerment and pulling apart imposter syndrome brick by brick. It serves as a repository for moments of validation, recognition and support that often get overshadowed or forgotten. By consciously recording these instances, you not only acknowledge your achievements and strengths but also cultivate a mindset of gratitude and self-worth.

Here is what Ai Mawdsley said about what the encouragement bank means to her:

“It’s a human condition: you could be told nine positive things and one negative thing and that negative thing is the only thing you’ll remember from that meeting.”

How to implement an encouragement bank?

It’s actually pretty easy, just start an excel spreadsheet or wherever you like to take notes. Every time someone gives you words of encouragement, like telling you that you are good at your job or that particular project you delivered was amazing – write it down!

It’s a tool that helps you reframe your narrative, instead of dwelling on setbacks or criticisms and helps you navigate challenges with greater resilience and confidence. But most importantly, on those bad days when life will inevitably get you down – it’s something to reflect back on to remind you how amazing you are.

Ai mentioned she also sought out a boss who could be her career champion:

“I was being repetitively torn down by a former manager and I had to ultimately exit that role for my own wellbeing. Now I’m in a role where my manager is a champion for me and regularly reinforces that I’m good at what I do.”

What if you are a manager who struggles to give positive feedback?

It’s true. Sometimes just giving a compliment or positive feedback can feel vulnerable, let alone receiving one.

What we can tell you is that just like every good habit, it takes consistency and practice. So here are some of our best tips to train those positive feedback muscles:

  • Be specific and timely: Provide compliments that are specific and timely to maximise their impact. Instead of generic praise, highlight specific behaviours, actions or achievements that you genuinely appreciate. For example, instead of saying “good job,” you could say, “I really appreciate how you handled that client meeting today. Your thorough preparation and clear communication made a significant impact.”
  • Regular feedback sessions: Schedule regular feedback sessions with your staff to create structured opportunities for recognition and encouragement. Use these sessions to not only provide constructive feedback but also to express appreciation for their contributions. Incorporating positive feedback as a regular part of these discussions helps create a culture of recognition and support within the team and improves retention.
  • Lead by example: Lead by example by modelling the behaviour you wish to see in your team. Demonstrate the importance of recognition and appreciation by actively acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of your staff. Whether it’s publicly recognising accomplishments during team meetings or privately expressing gratitude for their efforts, your actions speak volumes and set the tone for how feedback is given and received within the organisation.

We wish you luck building your encouragement bank!