Workplace Appreciation: Do Those You Work With Feel Appreciated?
Did you know there are different ways we like to receive appreciation?
Organizations are not made of bricks and mortar. They are made of individuals with unique hearts, different mind-sets, various talents, and diverse experiences. This diversity is what makes our organizations rich with creativity as each person brings his or her gift-mix to the organizations’ goals. Even with this uniqueness, there is a common thread: Each of us wants to bring value and to be valued. We all want to know that what we do matters.
In their recent book, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, bestselling authors Gary Chapman and Paul White have found that “the reality is that what makes one person feel appreciated does not make another person feel appreciated.” The diversity in our workplaces stretches beyond culture, gender, ethnicity, and the various mixtures of competencies. We are diverse in the way we give and receive appreciation.
Let me give you some real life examples from exit interviews I have conducted.
From “star” employees leaving an organization:
- “I would not be leaving if I just knew that they value the work that I do.”
- “It’s not about the money. It’s just that no matter what I do, how long I work, or what I accomplish—I never hear anything positive. I do hear about the mistakes, but if I do my job well, it goes quiet.”
From “A-player” employees leaving an organization:
- “I can’t do the job of two or three people any longer. If my boss would actually help me and spend time trying to understand what is on my plate, I may reconsider.”
In general, we see that both types of individuals felt underappreciated. What was different about their comments, though? The clues are found in what they were not receiving that made them feel underappreciated. In the first case, the employee was missing specific words of affirmation. In the second example, the employee needed appreciation shown through spending quality time with the boss.
The other side of the story is that many leaders believe they are showing appreciation. Perhaps they are, but they unintentionally miss the mark because research indicates that most of us give appreciation in the way that we like to receive it. However, if we express appreciation that is not meaningful to the individual, that person may not feel valued at all. And when employees feel valued and satisfied, it leads to customer satisfaction, and that fact impacts the bottom line.
So here is the Leadership Challenge:
- Think about how you would like to receive appreciation.
- Survey five colleagues and ask them how they prefer to receive appreciation (spoken or written words of praise, tangible gifts, quality time with leader, acts of service, etc.).
- Listen to what you hear. What are the similarities and what are the differences?
- Be intentional about learning the different languages of workplace appreciation and showing others you value them in a way they like to receive it.
- Choose one individual and give that person the appreciation that he or she prefers, even if it is not the way you like to receive it.
For many of us, this challenge will stretch us beyond our comfort zones. It is worth the effort. You will see a big difference in your relationships and your workplace if your appreciation is sincere, genuine, and “spoken in a language” the receiver understands.