When Appreciation Is not Appreciated Enough

Seeing a family member praising another one is a natural image. It doesn’t raise eyebrows. When a team member does the same, it is a rare picture. The workplace is not set for appreciation, yet human beings need it. The result is a high turnover that can be easily reduced. Much too often in my coaching practice do I hear clients complaining about the lack of appreciation. They feel that their work is not valued and work becomes a transaction, not a passion. Praises have the unique power of turning a task into excitement. Without it you just move or think, you don’t create value.

I have a client who is on the verge of leaving the company he works for just because the culture is dry, there is no appreciation. It is not quite true, there is an appreciation for the fact that they trust him and keep giving him projects. But verbally nothing is ever said. He says that he wears an armor to work and he clenches his teeth to get by. In a way, what keeps him there is the paycheck. It is quite sad when you end up thinking that of your job. His boss never tells him that his project was well led, or that his initiative helped the company, nor that the way he handled the client saved the day. It is as if what is positive was welcomed with silence. But once there is an error, a faux-pas, words spurt out. I believe that this example is one among a majority.

What Is Missing?

You are hired for your skills, fired for your behavior and you leave a company for the lack of appreciation. It is so much true that a great number of companies set ‘collaboration’ as a value because it does not exist naturally in the organization. It has to be reminded because the habits are quite opposite. By telling loud and clear that ‘we need to collaborate’ is a way to motivate the troop not to forget it. John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, says that people under communicate by a factor of 10 in a time of change. I want to say that organizations under appreciate by a factor of 10 any time of the year. Appreciation is really hard to introduce in the work place and they might be multiple reasons for that:

  • It is a competitive environment driven by male characteristics that does not leave room to appreciation,
  • Appreciation is seen as fluffy,
  • It raises the question of intimacy and boundaries,
  • The majority of people is not showing their positive thoughts,
  • A hard line is drawn between professional and personal. Praise might be seen as too personal.

What Is Appreciation?

An appreciation is usually a verbal way of telling that a work is well done or it is a specific action. It is not personal but individual. Examples of appreciations are:

  • Saying thank you when a work is done,
  • Naming the positive impact of a behavior,
  • Referring to an action that led to positive outcome,
  • Supporting a colleage in need,
  • Giving something for a specific occasion like an achievement or a birthday,
  • Offering your service to help someone,
  • Sharing the story of a job well done to colleagues or other departments,
  • Providing positive feedback during a project,
  • Emitting a constructive criticism in the purpose of development.

Like children crave attention, people at work craev for appreciation. You can not remove the human from the employee so you might as well provide the essential needs for a job well done. Someone who feel appreciated will go the extra mile out of loyalty and reciprocity. Organization are paying high money for engagement programs when they could achieve far move just by spreading appreciation at all levels. It saves you money while it helps achieve high results.

Sara Bigwood

Collaboration Builder & Leadership Development