as published in Conway Daily Sun
Before you look for ideas on how to show your appreciation to employees, it is easier if you actually feel some appreciaton for them in the first place. Where do you fall on the appreciation spectrum?
At opposing ends of the spectrum, one employer (who may sound shocking to some) says “Employees are paid to do a job; they cost wages, benefits and taxes, plus recruiting and training is expensive. Now they want a bonus for doing what they were hired and paid to do in the first place. There is no loyalty so they’ll leave the minute they get a better offer anyway. Most employees only do what is required of them, and only care about their paycheck.”
At the other end of the spectrum, an employer (who may sound shocking to some), says “I could not live without my staff. We would have nothing if not for them. Most of the best ideas come from my people, my customers love them and they come up with solutions to problems before I even know we had a problem, they create new ideas to make our work more fun, and they’re always inventing some new and better way of doing things. I owe my career and financial results to my team!”
If you find yourself wishing you lived at the positive end of that spectrum, but it seems unrealistic, you should know that such work places do exist. In fact, they are more common than you might think. If you’ve never seen such a workplace, it may seem impossible to achieve. I invite you to expose yourself to more positivity – read books like Theory U (okay, that’s a giant book that never ends, but I would give you credit if you just skimmed a few chapters). Read Conscious Capitalism and/or Firms of Endearment. The companies featured in Firms of Endearment are the highest super-achieving companies in the world, yet what they do and how they do it is startlingly simple. The culture described above is in fact, possible as soon as the leadership believes it is possible. Once their minimum financial needs are met, most staff values appreciation more than money and benefits.
To increase your appreciation of staff, start by appreciating your staff. That’s right, appreciate is a verb – it is something you do, so just do it. I have a few gratitude buddies. Each morning, I text this small group a short statement of something I am grateful for. There are 4 of us in the group, so if I forget one morning, I will get a text or two from my buddies to remind me. I admit, some days it can be difficult to feel grateful, even though intellectually I can name 100 little things for which I could be grateful, I may just not be feeling it. Bringing this to my attention is powerful. I force myself to state something, anything. You could do this at work each morning and make it about something or someone at work that you are grateful for that day. You may be surprised at how powerful this exercise is when you do it every day. If you’re at that point, you could encourage your entire staff to participate in something similar.
If you are not normally one who expresses your appreciation, you may be seen as insincere when you start making awkward and manipulative sounding statements. Just smacking someone on the back and saying “good job” might backfire and build resentment. I suggest you be honest and make yourself a little vulnerable. Simply start by admitting that you have become aware that you don’t express your appreciation well and you would like to get better at that. Tell them up front that you are trying to get better and that you value their contribution. If you are a step-by-step person, try building up to the thank you in 3 simple steps – use their name, tell them what you appreciate them for, how it helped, and then end by saying thank you. For example “Alice, I appreciate your help with the newsletter. Thanks to you, we got two new customers this week who responded to your idea you put in the newsletter and it already brought in X dollars. Good job. Thank you!” Now, would that be so hard? - Remember – use their name, what they did, how it helped and thank you!
Anyone can do this, you don’t have to wait for your boss to lead the way. In fact, the boss might get more comfortable after she sees you modeling it! Anyone can follow this technique with any co-worker, boss, supplier or customer. Think about it, on days when you went home feeling under-appreciated, would it have helped if anyone at all had shown some appreciation to you? Of course it would! So you can do the same for anyone you meet. Try it on the cashier at the grocery store. Try it on your spouse or children. As the saying goes, become the change you want to see in the world.
I appreciate you. I am grateful to my readers who email me and share my columns via Facebook or email. This helps spread positivity and productivity to others and when you send me messages it encourages me to write more and lets me know my work has value. That makes it much easier for me to do what I do every day. Thank you!