All leaders are aware of the need to appreciate their team members, but some do it better than others.
In general, people are looking for more appreciation at work. This is particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many employees feel like they’re doing more work while also dealing with a variety of work-from-home challenges.
According to a recent survey from Fortune Business Insights, 80% of workers feel like they’re being overworked during the pandemic — yet only 41% say that their bosses are offering any real recognition for their efforts.
It’s no surprise that this can lead to significant problems for companies and managers alike. According to another survey from Gallup, employees who don’t feel appreciated are twice as likely to quit their job within the next year.
Humanized Leaders find a way to hit the right balance between directing and appreciating their team members’ efforts. They view appreciation as a means of achieving better performance from their team members, and as a way of motivating them toward excellence. They truly care that their communication style lands with the other person, and smartly realize that the best way to show appreciation is to discern how best the other person can receive it.
In the progressive leadership team transformation work I do with organizations, one of the concepts we explore is how to adapt the way you communicate to a style of communication that is different from yours. We often use a behavioral assessment such as DiSC or Predictive Index. Alternatively, we’ll draw from four different categories of communication, motivation, and behavior: The Get It Done, The Get Appreciated, The Get Along, and The Get It Right styles.
Can you guess which style the teams I work with usually judge as inferior, or needy? The Get Appreciated Style. Appreciation is typically judged as attention seeking, needy, too flashy, and self-centered — all of which are counter-productive behaviors that need to be eliminated in a culture of high performance. But why do we see the desire for appreciation as inferior?
We’ve all heard the saying, “the best way to win friends and influence people is by showing an interest in them.” This can’t be truer than when leading others. As a leader, your relationship with your team is paramount to productivity and motivation.
The power of appreciation is not only a great leadership practice; it’s also one of the most effective tools you can use to inspire and motivate your team in any type of work environment — from an office setting to a construction site or retail store floor.
While it’s easy (and common) for managers to get caught up in their own workloads, goals and daily tasks, taking the time to say “thank you” or “good job” can have a big impact on employee satisfaction and retention rates. Even better, go beyond the “good job” and specifically describe how the other person added value or improved the situation.
When my teams unpack the value of the “Get Appreciated” communication style, they begin to accept the value of appreciation. Many more are then willing to raise their hands and admit it is their preferred communication style.
I had a client recently share that he realized how much external appreciation was important to him. He “hated” the fact he had to admit it out loud. Somehow this seemed to weaken him. He felt this created too much dependence on external validation. I celebrated his self-discovery! Of course, he wanted to receive appreciation — and there was nothing wrong with that. More importantly, he saw that his appreciation motivation made him an expert at appreciating, and valuing, and celebrating his staff.
Appreciation is a skill that can be learned, practiced and fine-tuned. And the cycle of appreciation and accountability reinforce one another. Getting caught up in the task at hand can sometimes create a barrier to managers offering feedback to employees on a regular basis. But the ability to appreciate others regularly enhances the respect shared among colleagues. It also improves team performance by increasing morale and boosting engagement.
Appreciating others is about more than just charisma or leadership acumen: it’s an essential component in fostering trust and creating an optimal work environment. So set small goals for yourself this week — like appreciating a colleague every day. Consider looking up to the leaders you admire — they may have mastered it already!