Appreciation in the workplace can sometimes be tricky.
Do any of these things go through your head?
- Praise one of them and ya gotta praise them all.
- They get paid, don’t they?
- Yeah, but who notices ME??
- I am always giving recognition but no one seems to notice.
NOW is absolutely the time to make sure that your workplace stops and acknowledges, recognises and celebrates individual contributions.
Why? Because everyone is exhausted and starting to feel that no one notices how hard they worked and the last thing we need is a resentful workforce. And because we know from Barbara Fredrickson’s work on Positivity that people under the influence of positive emotions are more creative, they think more laterally, they are more resilient and demonstrate higher levels of work and life satisfaction.
What can we do?
If you have time you can watch this informative little clip on Why a Paycheck Isn’t a Thank You
In the meantime, let me summarise what I heard.
Appreciation and Recognition needs to be:
- Specific and differentiated dependent on the level of input/importance of task
“Thanks, everyone for their hard work during these unusual times” is timely and that’s about all. You might be thanking your team regularly, you might be sending thank you emails or even making funny memes and sticking them up in the lunchroom but unfortunately, almost no one is noticing because it is not specific or tailored to the recipient.
“Joelle, I really appreciated the way that you helped me to navigate Zoom on my new computer yesterday when my online course was about to start. I was really anxious and you made me feel calm”
This hits all 5 criteria (especially if it is done face to face)
“The accuracy you showed when completing that project really helped because I knew that, if there were errors, I would have to work over the weekend. So I am really grateful for your attention to detail.”
“I am so grateful for your laugh, some days are hard but when I can hear you laughing in the hallways it always brings a smile to my face.”
>>> Insert warning here <<
It is NOT YOUR JOB alone to run around pumping sunshine and making everybody feel good
Appreciation, recognition and gratitude in a workplace is a shared exercise. A leader or manager can not possibly see all the good work that everyone does every day. We have to train and encourage all employees to give (and receive) recognition and to see it as valuable and important regardless of who gives it.
Later this week I have one short hour to facilitate a staff meeting with a big team. We are going to start with a quick version of my workshop “Why Happiness is Hard” and finish with an appreciation exercise where staff will have two weeks to recall or collect moments of gratitude or appreciation. They will then share these, one-on-one, during a whole staff event later in the month and then create an artwork as an ongoing visual reminder.
This is big.
Your version doesn’t need to be so grand – some low key alternatives are:
- Many workplaces have a practice of “Secret friend week” – just add the expectation that each “gift” from your secret friend needs to have a (specific) note of appreciation attached.
- Put 5 paper clips in your pocket. Each time you give a specific, personal piece of praise take out a paperclip (note: make sure the praise has landed. If the other person does not seem to have registered the praise or lets it slide off, establish eye contact and say it again “No seriously, I really want you to know how much I appreciated ….”
- At your next team meeting, put Appreciation on the agenda and each person needs to say something about the person to their left “What I really appreciate about Frank is …” OR “I am really grateful when ….” OR “A strength/quality/skill I appreciate in you is ….”
There are a great many ways to show appreciation and to practice gratitude. What are your favourite ways?
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Hello there! I am Jenny Cole - Coach, Consultant and Cheerleader. I work with women to create careers, workplaces and lives that allow them to flourish.
I love nothing better than watching smart, capable but overwhelmed women step confidently into their best self and truly succeed.
I am endlessly curious with two successful businesses behind me. My blog shares what I see, what I know and random musings.