Feeling appreciated and that we are making a difference is a basic need and essential for employee engagement and retention. Of course, if there is enough money involved people might stick around but will they really care about your business? I suspect not!
There are different ways of expressing appreciation. We will likely respond to one of the following four: acknowledgement, time, services or gifts. This comes from the book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace written by Gary Chapman and Paul White. In the book they also discuss physical affection but that is far too sensitive a topic for a variety of reasons and so I do not recommend it.
Acknowledgement: Some team members are quite visibly moved by genuine words of praise and acknowledgment. To make this impactful ensure your comments are detailed and specific. A perfunctory “nice job” said while rushing past to get to your next meeting isn’t very effective. If we want our words to have an emotional impact then detail on the impact of their efforts helps a great deal.
Time: Have you noticed that some of your team members brighten at the opportunity to speak with you at length? That need for face time is letting you know that is what’s needed to feel appreciated. We all have deadlines and need to keep efficiency levels high but truly work IS about relationships. Some people really do equate time with caring. Have you ever heard the expression “He didn’t give me the time of day?”
Gifts: A gift does not need to come wrapped in a bow to make a difference. I had an assistant who brightened whenever I picked up a coffee for her when I went out. Who is on the team that really likes the cookies you bring to your morning meetings? One boss would periodically find his favourite chocolate bar in his coat pocket when he was racing to the GO train. How did his team know he would like this? He made a point of bringing in surprise treats for them.
Service: Others on your team might really like it when you do something for them such as offering to stay a little later when they are swamped. Still others will enjoy a surprise like coming out to their car and finding the snow has been cleared off for them. Note this is about helping out and not rescuing or taking over tasks that properly belong to others.
So how can you tell which will of the four will make the most impact? Well, what do they tend to do for you? Alternatively you can ask them directly. I have always received an immediate answer to the question. We all know what we need from others to do our best.
I don’t have time to keep track of what everybody wants. My job is to get the job done. Yup! Question is do you want to make your job harder or easier? As an effective team leader you will be doing all four of these anyways so is this really something onerous?
My boss doesn’t do anything for me. And if everyone else jumped off the cliff, would you? As leaders we are buffers ,be it from senior management, other departments or even customers which is why we can set the tone for our teams. Ultimately how we treat our teams is how they interact with one another. Providing recognition and appreciation in a meaningful way improves people’s sense of belongingness and satisfaction.
As far as I am concerned employee appreciation is always in season! What are your thoughts?