In Steven Schussler’s It’s a Jungle In There, he believes it is important to make people feel special in a way that is meaningful. (Schussler) Employees know the difference between meaningful appreciation and routine appreciation. The annual birthday card generated by the computer is nice to receive, but is not meaningful. The hand signed card congratulating them on a winning a 5k race is meaningful. Now, some managers may say, ‘here’s another task I should do-appreciate my employees.’ Yes, because people need to know they matter and it makes them feel good to receive attention. Can you remember the last time you were appreciated in an unexpected way at work? How did you feel? More motivated, more engaged. In Why Appreciation Matters So Much, Tony Schwartz says that feeling appreciated lifts people up, makes them feel safe, they can do their best work and it’s energizing. (Schwartz) What happens when we don’t feel appreciated? Worry can take over draining energy and contribution.
So, why is it so difficult to appreciate others in the workplace? Victor Lipman, writing for Forbes, asked his readers and here are a couple responses: managers don’t have time to think about what to do or say and it is not in their job description. (Lipman) For the manager who has trouble with appreciation, Tony Schwartz has four easy and practical steps to use towards creating an excellent performing team. (Schwartz)
- As the Hippocratic oath prescribes to physicians, “Above all else, do no harm.” Try to do less harm since it is unlikely to do none. Even when employees do not meet your expectations, being too negative in those situations can have long lasting impact.
- Practice appreciation by starting with yourself. If you are not comfortable appreciating other people, it might be because you aren’t appreciating yourself. At the end of each day, ask yourself “What can I feel proud of today?” I suggest you write it down. If your goal is self-improvement, ask yourself “What can I do better tomorrow?” Write that down too.
- Make it a priority to notice what others are doing right. The more attention paid to what they are doing right will make it easier for you. Think about the positive qualities, behaviors, and contributions you might be taking for granted among the members of your team. What does each person bring to your team? How are they unique?
- Be appreciative. Be specific about what you value. When you give a handwritten note, it will go much further than the thank you email or the “good job” as you pass in the hallway. Although the latter are better than no appreciation at all. They just will not yield the same impact.
As you start the work of appreciating others in the workplace remember the smallest gesture can mean the most to an employee. Here are a few ideas to get you started: praise an employee in front of others, pick up the phone, call an employee and be specific with your praise of a recent contribution, have an impromptu meeting and tell them how much their work on a recent project led to its success, if there is a coffee shop nearby get them a $5.00 gift card and write a short note inside. If none of those ideas work for you, then go to the web and Google ways to appreciate employees and you can find thousands of ideas. As Nike says “Just Do It”. Be the creator of a culture of appreciation at your place of work.
Schussler, Steven It’s A Jungle In There. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010.
WBrandon, John. “Survey Reveals Stark Divide Between Employees Who Feel Appreciated and Those Who Don’t.” Inc.com. N.p., 09 Sept. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. <http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/survey-reveals-stark-divide-between-employees-who-feel-appreciated-and-those-who.html>.
Lipman, Victor. “Lack of Employee Recognition Is a Management Epidemic.” Psychology Today. N.p., 18 May 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-the-manager/201505/lack-employee-recognition-is-management-epidemic-0>.
Lipman, Victor. “Why Is Lack of Employee Recognition a Chronic Problem.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Schwartz, Tony. “Why Appreciation Matters So Much.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., 23 July 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. <https://hbr.org/2012/01/why-appreciation-matters-so-mu.html>.