The Art Of Appreciation
How do you show those you lead that you really appreciate them?
How appreciated have you felt this week? And how appreciated have you helped those around you feel?
Expressing appreciation and helping your team feel valued is free for leaders to do and relatively low on the effort front.
It leads to teams performing better, leaving less, and generating more, better results.
Looking at it through a simplified lens, expressing genuine appreciation is a completely free way for leaders to generate better results and higher profits whilst at the same time increasing the happiness of those who work for you.
It’s questionable why ‘showing appreciation’ isn’t given more attention by business strategists.
Not least because post-pandemic research by global management consultancy McKinsey & Company showed that ‘not feeling appreciated or valued by their organization’ was the number one reason given for people leaving their jobs during the ‘great resignation’.
‘Not feeling valued by their manager’ was reason number two.
For remote workers, where the potential to feel disengaged and disconnected is that much higher, the impact is even deeper.
The challenge is that when you’re in the thick of it, struggling to balance competing pressures and stakeholder demands, expressing appreciation can be one of the first things that gets neglected.
Whilst it is free to do, it does require thought and for you to pay attention. Because what one person needs to feel appreciated, is likely to be entirely different from another.
When your team isn’t co-located with you that difference can be harder to distinguish. And out of sight and out of mind means that it requires an even deeper degree of attention.
So this week, to explore what it means to feel and show appreciation as a leader, here are five tools to help you.
Think: Showing appreciation often falls into two camps; the quick ‘thank you’ or ‘great job’ expressed by individual leaders. Or larger-scale company initiatives such as team events, get-togethers, and celebrations.
Take a moment as a Board and reflect on these three questions:
What level of importance do you attach to showing genuine appreciation - at a Board and business level?
(What do you think your teams would say if you asked them the same question?)
What insight do you have as to how appreciated and valued your teams feel right now?
What is one thing that you could do, beyond the norm, to express your level of appreciation to those you lead?
Model: The Languages of Appreciation model below outline 5 ways that those around you give and want to receive appreciation - built upon research by Dr Gary Chapman & his model 'Five Languages Of Love'.
Let's say you give appreciation through your words, sending a note or saying 'thank you' - but those around you want to feel appreciated with acts of service and you doing something for them. There's a misalignment.
You don't need to speak the same language, but you do need to understand what those around you want to receive and give. Because the one bit of advice that many of us grow up with and defer to ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’ is arguably the worst advice when it comes to leading others.
Use the model above, and the tools you have, such as Everything DiSC®, to give you clues about what makes your team tick.
Show them how you value their strengths, and why they matter, and help them feel appreciated for what they bring to the team.
What insight do you have about what each individual in your team really appreciates?
What do each of your team members need from you, different from each other?
What do can you do more of to intentionally adapt your style to give them what they need?
Stop saying this: Helping those around you feel appreciated doesn’t mean getting deep and emotional every time. But it does require more than a “great job”. Like all feedback, positive praise must be specific and meaningful.
Think about the gratitude that you’ve shown your team this week.
What words did you use?
What did your body language, tone, timing and energy convey?
What tweak could you make next time for even better effect?
Read: This interesting piece for HBR, discusses how focus groups and interviews with employees reveal that making them feel valued and recognized isn’t all that complicated. “It mostly comes down to a lot of small, commonsense practices.”
Then reflect and think about the individuals in your team. What small thing could you do today to let your team know how much you value them?
Share: Leadership isn’t a one-way relationship. Make it easy for others to know what makes you feel appreciated and valued at work. It helps no one, not least you, to keep those around you in the dark.
How clearly have you articulated to those around you what you need from them?
What three tips could you give others to help them?
What difference could that make to how you feel at work?
Thank you for being here and reading this. I appreciate you.
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I appreciate this article, Rebecca! Thanks