Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Art of Appreciation

Whilst sat at my desk the other day, I received an unexpected email from a client of mine with whom I had worked for four coaching sessions. He sent me a very kind thank you note and my pleasure at reading it was underscored because it was so unexpected. Plus – it got me thinking…

Considering the amount of time you spend during your waking hours going to work, at work, coming home from work and thinking about work…..just how appreciated do you feel? When was the last time you were shown some genuine appreciation for what you do and the contribution you make to your employer’s business? And what would it take for you to feel really appreciated? The easy answer would be to say ‘a pay rise’. Well, perhaps, but even so, there is plenty of published research that shows money doesn’t buy satisfaction, fulfilment, purpose or loyalty at work in the long term.

Talking of research, much has been written in the world of leadership development about how to motivate as a leader and there are, undoubtedly, an array of fantastic tools to use. My own view is that for leaders (a) this doesn’t need to be too complicated and (b) in the midst of all the economic turmoil of recent years, one thing with which we have to be careful of being too stingy is our appreciation. In 2012, I commissioned an independent piece of research looking at what ‘Executive Presence’ means and a core component revealed was the notion of how leaders ‘ENGAGE’ their people. By that I mean the extent to which ‘leaders connect with emotion; win hearts and minds; how they attract, inspire, challenge, support, motivate, develop and influence others’.

Appreciation is undoubtedly part of our toolkit here and to be clear, what I don’t mean is that we should start saying thank you every five minutes when our employees simply show up to work. But what I do mean is that being genuinely, regularly and personally appreciative of others should be part of our 'operating rhythm’. So how do you do it? Yes, flowers, food and fizz also go down well as a thank you but it doesn’t always have to be financial reward. Never underestimate the value of low effort/high impact gestures such as:
  • A hand written thank you note (when did you last get one of those, by the way, from a boss or colleague at work?).
  • Call people – just solely for the purpose of saying thank you.
  • Sending a thank you email to their boss about them and copying them in on it.
  • Writing a glowing recommendation on LinkedIn.
  • Or just simply ask them – how do they want to be appreciated? Some people love the publicity more than the prize; others would rather stick a pin in their own eye than be the centre of attention and a quiet ‘well done’ works wonders instead.

So, it seems to me that appreciation is an art; as leaders we should be personal, thoughtful and genuine in how we do it…not forgetting the fact that it makes us feel good when we do it. How’s that for a win/win? Catch your people doing something good and appreciate them for it. Now then, and on that note, enough of this writing; I’ve got some appreciating to do…