Easy to do, but often overlooked… are you aware how important it is to let your team know that you appreciate them? My friend Jeff told me, “I never hear any positive feedback from my boss, but let me do one thing wrong and I hear about it for months.” It should come as no surprise to you that one of the reasons people give for leaving a job is a feeling of being unappreciated. Appreciation does not have to be expensive or time-consuming… just sincere. Here are a few ideas about how to demonstrate appreciation at work –
1. Say “Thank you” – Sometimes all you need is to say “Thanks”. If you feel the need to say more, be specific. Identify what the person did and how it was helpful.
2. Get Physical – We have become so careful about sexual harassment that we are afraid to touch each other. Obviously, you should avoid unwanted touching that makes a person uncomfortable. Most people do not object to a pat on the back, a handshake, a thumbs up, a fist bump, or a high five.
3. Food – Appreciation might involve bringing donuts in the morning or ordering pizza for lunch. For a big thank you, consider taking your team out for dinner. Be aware of the dietary needs of your team. If someone has special dietary needs, they will appreciate being asked.
4. Opportunities for development – Your team will love the fact that you think they are worth investing in. An opportunity for development might be encouraging them to take a seminar or a class. It could also be as simple as asking someone to accompany you to a meeting.
5. Roll up your sleeves – Your team will love the fact that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty. That does NOT mean you should be doing their job, but it might mean getting involved when there is a crisis. When I worked in an electronics manufacturing plant, an emergency order had the employees working at a crazy pace. Knowing he was less skilled at operating the complex machinery, one leader asked his team – “How can I help?” One machine operator said – “It would be helpful if I didn’t have to keep running to the supply room.” To the delight of his team, he made several trips to the supply room each day that week.
6. Time – One way to show your team that you appreciate them is to spend time with them. Take the time to find out how they are doing and what they need. It is a critical part of building relationships. You might also give them time off. In the middle of a particularly grueling week my boss, Rita, called us together on Wednesday to tell us that we should all plan to take the day off on Friday.
7. Put it in writing – This can range from a sticky note on someone’s computer screen, to an email, a hand-written note, or even recognition in your team or company newsletter. Again be specific and sincere.
8. Ask for input – Believe it or not, when you ask someone for their input you are telling them that you value their knowledge. Be sure that you give them credit for their great ideas.
9. Tangible gifts – You do not have to spend a lot of money, but it does require that you know your employees. You could give someone flowers, tickets to a sporting event, or a gift card to a store that reflects their interest. Over 20 years ago, one of my managers gave me a brass keychain with the words “Damn I’m good!” I still carry it today.
10. Show me the money – You knew I’d get around to this. We often don’t appreciate people because we are afraid they will ask for a raise. If a raise is appropriate… do it. Another way to give money might be a bonus or a gift card.
If you’d like to focus on appreciation, I highly recommend the book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share new tips and ideas on heart-based leadership. If you have specific questions or topics you would like me to address I would love to hear from you! I would also love to have you join the discussion with me on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/LeadershipAndLove