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Appreciation for People

People crave appreciation for their performance. They put a significant amount of effort into their jobs, and most people closely associate their personal value with how they feel they are perceived at work.

There are many ways leaders show that they appreciate their team. In some cases, they display their appreciation by presenting the person with something tangible—a bonus, a gift, a plaque. In other cases, mere recognition of the work that they do is enough. It is surprising how often leaders forget to thank people for what they do. Far too often, managers take their people for granted.

Unless there are good processes in place to recognize improvement team members’ efforts, they can be neglected as well.

Continuous Improvement Enterprise Development Pack

Continuous improvement projects create an additional need to show appreciation to a team. Employees are being pulled out of their comfort zone. Project team leaders and bosses should both let team members know that they appreciate the effort spent doing something different. Appreciation should be specific. Don’t just thank a team for their being on a project or for trying something new and challenging. Recognize that there is also a cost in the additional work that is piling up on their desks. Comment on a specific issue the person had that made the project particularly hard.

Contrary to popular belief, appreciation does not have to be shown in a public ceremony. Some people actually experience elevated stress by being the focus of attention. Appreciation can be a simple thank you at the completion of a task. Leaders should do it face-to-face for the personal touch, but also should consider sending an email or quick note, or printing a certificate. A physical memento of the appreciation goes a long way.

Another option is to buy people lunch, or bring them treats. One manager I worked with would occasionally get ice cream for his team and add in a quick extra afternoon break on hot days. It was an easy way to say thanks for the added fatigue people were feeling due to the heat.

I used to give handwritten thank you notes to people on the 5 year increment anniversaries. For one big anniversary, I brought a donut and coffee up to one of my team members for a week—she didn’t want public recognition. Both were personal touches outside of a formal recognition system that showed my appreciation, not just the company’s.

  1. Make your effort match the effort the person put in. A simple task can get a simple thank you. Bigger effort from them should take bigger effort from you.
  2. Be specific. Letting people know that you understand what they did is very important. It lets people know that they matter to you. Point out specific events and actions to make sure that people know you were paying attention, and not just checking the appreciation block.
  3. Be timely. Make sure that you recognize people soon after their effort.
  4. Let people know why it mattered to you. Tell them how their efforts fit into the ‘big picture’, but also show personal appreciation. Your team makes your life easier. Tell them so.


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  • dsarris says:

    This is a great article and right to the point. Our company has just gone through an employee survey and this exact issue of showing appreciation was a topic to be discussed. I am fortunate in my area to have a manager who follows each of what is recommended in this article but I know that for one reason or another other managers are not as good at showing appreciation for work well done.

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