Leslie leaves her job after 18 years for another that pays about the same amount of money. Raymond leaves his new job of six months for another job that pays 50 cents an hour more with a longer commute. Sarah is looking for a job in another field. She is tired of the negativity at her current firm. What do these three have in common? They all did not feel appreciated at work.
What motivates us on the job? How can we get the most from our employees? Appreciation is the number one motivator above money, exciting work, and promotions. Is that hard to believe? It’s true, we have a critical need to feel appreciated on the job, and too many leaders won’t or don’t know how to show sincere appreciation at work.
Being appreciated helps replenish the internal drive to self-actualize at work. The competitive need to be successful exists in all of us to varying degrees. From the needy to the content, we desire to hear that we are making a difference, even in the smallest of details.
The worst of human offenders have the mindset that a “paycheck” is thanks enough for the work we provide for our employers. This myopic view of the human condition cannot see the vast amounts of productivity left on the table daily. Great leaders understand that sincere appreciation provides the energy we need to exert more significant effort constantly. This energy can prevent us from taking the “path of least resistance” daily on the job. Discretionary effort is the reward gained when people feel genuinely appreciated on the job.
As humans, we have a “sixth sense” when it comes to sincerity. We are very good at discerning the sincere from the insincere. Insincerity has little effect on our energy and can eventually lead to mistrust. It becomes meaningless when we detect the slightest hint of pretense in someone’s attempt at showing appreciation.
A key component for our success is a boss that notices the little things we provide the organization daily. From a little extra effort on a project to the deliberate attempt to be on time each day, we are all capable of doing more when we “want” to. When taken for granted, our desire to give more effort starts to deteriorate. This deterioration can be very incremental or very sudden, depending on the individual. Many of us were taught as children to “work hard” and have difficulty limiting our output. However, the energy to keep giving will eventually subside in all of us over time. This condition leads to discontentment, and we ultimately become unhappy with our work.
Great leaders understand that they must make constant and deliberate investments in the energy of those they are blessed enough to lead. These simple remarks (when given with sincerity) can provide a fantastic amount of fuel for our effort on the job. While we do not all burn it at the same rate, we all need power just the same. Some people burn energy at a higher rate and need more appreciation, while others use and require less feedback.
Those in leadership positions must learn, then be held accountable for giving sincere feedback. There are clear skills that anyone can learn then choose to utilize. A most dangerous assumption is that we already know how to deliver proper feedback. The truth is that many people have never discovered the “How To” and “Not To” of providing feedback. This condition is starving many organizations of the same fuel they need to energize their organizational engines. This sputtering and gasping limits performance and costs organizations dearly.
Consider your environment for a moment. Do you feel appreciated at work? Do people notice your hard work and extra effort? Have you stopped going that “extra mile” because nobody seems to care? Imagine the lost potential and the millions of dollars wasted because of the underappreciated among us in the workplace today.
I teach supervisors and managers two different methods for delivering feedback. One methodology is straightforward and works in many everyday situations. Another technique is better suited for delicate conversations, such as poor performance on the job. They also learn to discern conditions and how best to employ these tools on the job. If turnover is an issue for your organization, these simple skills (among others) can immediately positively impact morale and retention.