10 Ways Leaders Can Make Their Teams Feel Appreciated
Everyone likes to feel appreciated, however in the workplace it’s more important than many people realize. In fact, a lack of appreciation is the biggest contributing factor to employees feeling a lack of motivation or engagement. The pandemic and successive lockdowns have only compounded the effect of a shortfall in appreciation, as many employees feel additional pressure, stress, and a disconnection from their colleagues while working remotely. In my work at The Culture Builders, an organization specializing in business culture, change, and performance, from the thousands of people we have spoken to as part of our programs and culture audits, just 49% say that they feel valued by their superiors—a worryingly low number. The concept of appreciation is really simple, and the ways in which we appreciate can be equally as simple, however, it is apparent that in many organizations this is currently just not happening or not happening enough. Here are some simple ways that managers and leaders can show appreciation to their teams:
1. Add a personal touch To say make a ‘thank you’ to an employee effective, make sure that you do it in a personal way. Whether in a handwritten note, a card, or a mention in your team meeting, ensure that you make it meaningful and sincere.
2. Do it in person If a face-to-face ‘thank you’ isn’t possible with the continual challenges imposed by the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to make it more human and interactive. Rather than a quick email, a phone or video call can be a really effective way to thank someone for a job well done, and show them your appreciation.
3. Know your people Everyone is different, and this is also true of how we respond to different ways of receiving thanks. Some people may really appreciate a mention in the team meeting in front of colleagues, however, others may prefer a private conversation much more. This is a great reminder of the benefits of knowing each member of your team really well.
4. Be prepared While it isn’t essential to walk around with a pocket full of thank you cards every day (and I have known someone in the police force who did this!) being prepared to thank people for a job well done can make it much easier to deliver.
5. Show understanding A straightforward ‘thank you’ or a ‘well done’ certainly have their place, however, it can really be worthwhile digging a little deeper and showing that you understand the work that your employee put in. Showing that you have a real understanding of this will make any show of appreciation much more meaningful.
6. Remember the bigger picture It’s easy to forget about the lives that people lead outside of their jobs, and that work can (and does) have an effect on this. The impact on people’s lives outside of work is all the more apparent when they go above and beyond what is typically required or expected. Never forget and also acknowledge this.
7. Celebrate success This doesn’t need to be limited to the big wins that have an impact on everyone; these can be small-scale successes too, the things that an individual can be proud of without everyone necessarily being aware. There are plenty of fun ways to celebrate success virtually - we don’t need to be in the office to do this!
8. Balance critique with appreciation Often, when someone has worked hard and put a lot of effort into something, it can be demoralizing to receive critique as the initial feedback. This situation is actually a great opportunity to use appreciation to show gratitude for the work and effort that has been carried out, before leading into constructive insight. The balance of the two can help employees take critique on board without feeling deflated.
9. Make it a dialogue An act of appreciation to a member of your team doesn’t need to be one way! It can be a great opportunity, not only to thank them but to start a two-way conversation and find out how they were able to achieve what they did. This shows a genuine level of interest and gratitude, and also indicates that it’s something that you might even like to replicate if possible.
10. increase your own sense of gratitude Appreciating your team isn’t just about making them feel valued - it also has an effect on you, too! Practicing gratitude will help with your own sense of resilience, will alleviate stress, and bring a new level of positivity to your working world. It really is a win-win!
Untapped potential Appreciation is an easy and enjoyable thing to implement into our working (and wider!) lives, with far-reaching benefits. The untapped potential of this is something that we should make sure we are aware of, particularly for leaders and managers in today’s world of remote working and new business practices. There’s never been a better time to put this into practice.