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Learn To Show Appreciation for Your Employees

A few kind words go a long way.

I recently stumbled on the article, “Show Your Employees Some Love: Why it Pays to Praise”, by Justin Bariso. It reminded me of the importance to make others, especially your employees, feel appreciated.

I guarantee your job is easier because of your employees! Do they know you appreciate them? If not, there are numerous ways to show them they’re appreciated—coffee, flowers, lunch, even a simple thank you will show your employees they’re valued.

Do you want to increase your employee retention? Consider Mr. Bariso’s valuable points in this article.

Show Your Employees Some Love: Why It Pays to Praise

May 14th, 2014

I still remember one of my first jobs following my move to New York years ago. My team consisted of about 40 people, and ‘Jack’, the department manager, had developed the unfortunate reputation of being a ‘hard-nose’. It’s not that he hated the members on our team – we just felt that way sometimes – because of his constantly pointing out how we could do our job better, accompanied by a perceived lack of appreciation for our efforts.

Fast forward almost 20 years later. In my current role as a consultant with a number of companies here in Germany, I’ve been conducting research on employee satisfaction and company culture. As I surveyed dozens of professionals working in various fields, one complaint stood far above the rest:

I just don’t feel appreciated.

Many of the employees I interviewed said that their superiors are quick to let them know what they are doing wrong, but are almost never inclined to tell them what they are doing right.

An accomplished member of one sales team put it this way: It would be nice to hear the words ‘nice job’ once in a while.

Commendation. Praise. ‘A job well done’. Whatever you want to call it, ‘it’ is sorely missing in today’s fast-paced, high-pressure, production-oriented environment.

But could the key to higher productivity be…inspiring your workers to be more productive?

Think about it…What would be the result if your superior said something like the following to you: ‘Hey _____________, I wanted to tell you something. I know I don’t say it enough – but I really appreciate what you’re doing here. The way you handled that (project, client, problem) – it was great. I could really see your (specific quality you possess) in action, and how much it benefits us here. Keep up the good work.’

Sound motivating to you?

Don’t mistake my point here. My goal is not to encourage ‘flattery’ (defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘insincere or excessive praise‘). We’re all well too familiar with the colleagues whose parents thought we should throw a party for every new song they learned as a child. And we also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a shallow or superficial compliment…that leaves us wondering about the intention of the compliment giver.

What I do strongly assert, is that if you take the time to give employees realistic and positive reinforcement – a.k.a. sincere commendation for a true ‘job well done’ – it will have the following benefits:

Your people will feel important and needed. In contrast to Jack (mentioned earlier), Mr. Larson, a managing director at the same organization, had a much different reputation. Despite having oversight of about 300 persons, he would come around to see each one of us on our yearly ‘work anniversary’ with the company. He usually stuck around and chatted for about 5 – 10 minutes, and he always amazed me with the interest he showed in us. Somehow, he even managed to learn all of our names – greeting us by first name as we passed each other in the hallways. ‘How’s it going, Mark?’ ‘Nice to see you, Shelly.’ ‘Great job on your presentation, Micah!’ Mr. Larson (Call me John, he would say) also had an open door policy that meant we could speak with him personally if we felt the need. I’m sure that many in similar positions may feel there are better ways to use their time. But those little things meant a lot. He made us feel that our work was important to him.

We were important to him.

Do you want your team to jump through hoops of fire for you? It might be a matter of just a few minutes a day, but I promise it will be time well spent.

It will make giving correction easier. Jack may have had a brash management style, but many office leaders in the U.S. identify with the opposite problem. Erika Andersen, an American management consultant and author, has trained hundreds of clients to be better leaders and managers. In an article she wrote for Forbes magazine’s online Leadership column, she mentions what many of her clients consider their most difficult task: giving people corrective feedback.

“Most often”, she writes, “we’re worried about the other person’s reaction: What if she gets angry? What if he cries? What if she tells me I’m an idiot? What if he gets super defensive and starts blaming me?”

One can imagine the problems that result from a lack of correction, ranging from employees who never reach their full potential, to others who lose their jobs without any idea of what they did wrong. But when we are in the habit of telling our employees how much we appreciate the good things they do, it becomes much easier to correct the bad things they do.

We can have confidence that our direction is balanced and reasonable – and in the best interests of both employee and company.

It makes receiving correction easier. Unlike Ms. Andersen’s clients, it is my experience that many companies here in Germany have a fair share of ‘Jacks’ running the show. (Christian Höferle explains possible reasons for this in an article he co-authored for the Harvard Business Review.) The German employees I interviewed said that it is very common for individuals in authority to spew out constant correction – even in a public setting. Morale…and productivity…naturally decline.

The fact is, no one wants to make mistakes or underperform. But when that’s the only message we hear, we begin to lose motivation. On the other hand, when we can be confident that our leaders have ‘got our backs’, we’re much more ready…and willing…to receive constructive criticism.

So give some thought to your own style of leadership. When’s the last time you told members of your team that you appreciated them? Or told them specifically what you appreciate? Or let them know how much you enjoy working with them? A few moments of sincere praise could pay rich dividends for you, your team, and your company.

Oh yeah…and to be fair, in time ‘Jack’ made some pretty drastic changes.

Who knows: Maybe he learned a thing or two from his own mistakes. Or maybe he softened a little with time. Or, maybe…

Maybe he stopped one day and decided to make a change…after a visit from Mr. Larson.

Original Article posted here.

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