Have you ever said something nice to someone or given a gift and have been surprised by their lack of reaction? Have you ever thought about how you like to be appreciated? There are many different ways to show appreciation and it turns out we don’t all like to be appreciated the same way, just like we don’t all like the same type of food.
Why Show Appreciation at Work?
When people don’t feel valued, bad things happen. They get discouraged and don’t work as hard, they feel used, they complain and they certainly don’t keep it to themselves. These actions, when addressed, often spread toxicity through a workplace or team. 79% of people who quit their jobs cite lack of appreciation from their managers as the primary reason for leaving. Employee’s appreciation affects your bottom-line. Not only does appreciation increase moral and performance but also is decrease turnover and increase customer satisfaction.
Are The Messages Being Sent But Not Received?
Managers are often shocked when many of their employees say they have not been shown any appreciation for their work in the past year. Even when managers can account for times they showed appreciation, some employees still say they never felt appreciated. The messages were being sent from the manager but they were not getting through to the employee in a way they needed to feel appreciated.
Taking an employee out to a sporting event when they hate sports and have kids at home they would rather spend time with, or recognizing an employee publicly at a large companywide event may be extremely embarrassing, or using the same unspecific language to express appreciation are common examples of an attempt to show appreciation that have not been received by the employee.
How to Show Appreciation
In the fantastic book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Chapman and White, methods of appreciation are broken down into 5 areas that make up the different ways people like to be appreciated.
The 5 languages are:
- Words of Affirmation – Uses words to communicate a positive message to another person. With words of affirmation it is important to know how they like it: one-on-one, small group setting, or public.
- Praise for accomplishments
- Affirmation of character
- Quality Time – Giving the person your focused attention.
- Quality conversation (eye contact, no distractions, listen to feelings AND thoughts)
- Shared experiences
- Small group dialogue
- Acts of Service – Providing assistance, “What can I do to help?”
- Make sure your own stuff gets done
- Ask before you help
- Do it their way
- Tangible Gifts – Physical items
- Give gifts to those who appreciate it
- The gift must be something the person values
- Physical Touch – Human to human contact. This is not primary in the workplace. You may want to save it for your family and close friends.
- Touching shoulders
- Brief hugs (especially in emotional times)
- High fives
- Fist bumps
These are all ways to express appreciation without spending a lot of time or money but the key is that the right type of appreciation for the individual is being delivered on a regular basis. Just as many work teams take a personality assessment to learn about each other, I strongly encourage teams to do some sort of appreciation assessment. This could be a simple discussion with each person expressing how they like to be appreciated or you could take Chapman and White’s Motivating by Appreciation Inventory™assessment.
Remember, people are generally motivated through, not just any appreciation, but the right appreciation for them.
The Appreciation Fold Activity
This is a great appreciation exercise for small to medium-sized groups. It is an anonymous way for to for people to give appreciation so it doesn’t single any person out and everyone receives the same about of appreciation. If a group is not used to giving and receiving appreciation, this may be a good starter activity giving everyone an opportunity to practice.
Have the group sit in a circle or rectangle and pass out a blank sheet of paper to everyone. Have them write their name at the top of the blank paper. Collect all the papers and shuffle them so that no one knows the order. Pass out the sheets of paper, again making sure know one gets the paper with their name on it. Instruct the group to look at the name on the paper and below the name write a line or two stating something you appreciate about the person.
Fold the paper just so their words are covered but the name at the top is still visible and slide the paper to the person on their left. Repeat the process, until the paper has gone around in the circle returning back to the first person that wrote on the paper. The sheet of paper should now look like a fan with many folds. Collect the papers and distribute them back to the person whose name is at the top.
Encourage the participants to take the paper away with them and in a quiet moment open them up and read through all the words off appreciation from their team. Suggest they keep the paper in a safe place and pull it out periodically when they are having a challenging day.