The Power of Appreciation
“Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
This quote really ties into one that I have often repeated to myself as a leader, and that is that people who feel appreciated will always do more than what is expected. Managers always ask what they can do to motivate the employees to do more. But the first question we ask should be, what are we not doing already that we should be?
Small recognitions, like words of appreciation, are intrinsic motivators. Motivators like this help build a positive culture, not based on monetary rewards but rather on a sense of each person feeling valued. Strong contributors should be told they are appreciated. Even when the work they are doing falls within their scope if they do it timely and with excellence (and above all, with a positive attitude) it needs to be recognized with words of appreciation.
I received one of these this week from someone on my team. It made my day and put a spring in my step. It was not for any one particular thing I had done, but a public expression of her appreciation of me for being “always available even when you are not available” and for having a cheerful attitude while serving others. To me, no other words could possibly be more rewarding to hear. The fact that I am making a positive difference while just going about my business is tremendously encouraging to me! Now I want to do more and do it better!
Think about the people you live with, whether it is parents or a spouse or whomever. You spend your evening after work or your weekend morning cleaning the house, prepping food, folding laundry or whatever. Then when your family members see, they thank you for taking both the time and the effort to make their lives happier or more comfortable. It is a great feeling!
But think of the reverse. You do all of that work and someone walks in, throws their keys down on the counter and says, “So, what are we eating?” It is like a slap in the face. Yes, maybe it was your turn to clean up the kitchen, but you did it so well and did some other things, too! How nice to get a simple thank you for it.
The same goes when our best employees or team mates go unappreciated. We talk about engagement and motivation, but if we don’t take these opportunities to thank them when they do a good job, we miss the greatest chance of all! Appreciation builds relationships and trust, it opens up a door to communication, it improves morale. And the lack of it will drive strong performers away.
We should all stop every day and remember the people both at work and at home that improve our lives and appreciate them. Our appreciation should be sincere and specific. And if that doesn’t start making a positive impact on these relationships, I’ll eat my hat!