Love, sex and money may make the world go round, but appreciation is what most of us are starving for, especially in the work environment. Appreciation is a strong motivator. It reinforces positive behavior and creates a bond between giver and receiver. Leaders who show appreciation for those who support and assist them will always have followers.
Appreciation is the balance between giving and receiving. People follow those who acknowledge value received and show their appreciation in some form. Today’s smart business leaders know that one of the best and least expensive ways to increase productivity is to offer appreciation for value received. And when you show appreciation for what others share, give or produce, it will be returned, even if not overtly stated.
When David, the owner of a sports equipment store, started showing appreciation for positive behavior instead of complaining about negative behavior from his retail sales staff, attendance improved and overall sales started to climb. One young man with a flair for style and design was given the opportunity to create an attractive display that increased sales of the displayed items. Personal and public appreciation for his contribution was enough encouragement for him to try other displays. He was eventually rewarded with a small override on promotional items for which he had created the display, but the real motivation came from the appreciation he received for a job well done and seeing the success of his efforts.
Customer loyalty, staff dedication and increased personal integrity are the result of freely given appreciation. Appreciation reinforces positive behavior. Appreciation encourages returned appreciation.
Here are seven keys you can use to help open the flow of appreciation around you.
Say Thank You – Any time someone contributes to your or your business’s well being, say “thank you”. It can be a simple verbal statement, an e-mail or a handwritten note. It’s the message that counts. The recipient will appreciate your acknowledgement. Feeling unappreciated or underappreciated is one of the biggest complaints among employees. When given the opportunity, a good but underappreciated employee may find another position where appreciation is more forthcoming. Remember, employees who feel appreciated are motivated to continue the behavior that’s appreciated.
Listen – Then Think – As a coach it’s critical to ask lots of questions and then listen to the response before thinking about what to say next. If you’re thinking about your next words while someone else is speaking, you aren’t connecting with what is being said. Conversations without listening do not leave either party feeling appreciated. When you feel heard you feel appreciated.
Accentuate the Positive – When you need to address the negative, start by stating what is positive. By showing appreciation for what is good and right you are setting the tone for the dialogue to be positive – how can we bring what is not positive onto the positive side. Try it next time you have to address negative staff behavior.
Ask How You Can Help – And make it a sincere offer. Your offer may not be accepted, but it will certainly be appreciated. Whenever possible, find out what is needed before making your offer. Of course, you’ll need to follow through on your offer or you’ll leave a negative memory and that won’t be appreciated.
Tap your Inner Value – To increase the odds of what you do being appreciated, tap into your natural gifts, passions, talents, skills and interests as much as possible in any situation. What you do naturally and well will be easier to accomplish. The results are likely to be of greater value than trying to do something that you find difficult, boring or tedious. You’ll be appreciated for who you really are and that is always a mood enhancer – and motivator.
Stay in the Flow – When you see you’re receiving appreciation for your actions, think about how you can continue to carry out such actions again. The more you are appreciated, the greater your value. Continue to do more of what produces appreciation.
Use Appreciation as a Motivator – Since we know that expressing appreciation acts as a motivator to repeat the behavior appreciated, look for what can be honestly and sincerely appreciated. Receiving and giving appreciation strengthens relationships, builds personal and professional confidence and sets the tone for a sustainable business.
More pay for more productivity is a good motivator, but of equal or greater value is the personal satisfaction felt from knowing your efforts are appreciated. So whether you’re dealing with employees, colleagues, suppliers or customers keep these keys in mind and use them to generate and enjoy more appreciation.