Author Archives: Management Associates

Perception and Challenge of Communicating Appreciation

Sufficiently recognizing and appreciating the efforts of employees poses challenges at all levels of the organizational chart. Everyone from vice presidents to fry cooks say that they hear about every small mistake they make, but only rarely are told when they have done a good job.

This is due, in large part, to distortions of perception. We human beings are acutely aware when our efforts go unrecognized—I worked all weekend on that report and she couldn’t even manage a lousy ‘thank you’!  But we are almost unable to realize when the labor of others goes similarly unacknowledged.

Many times we will not know that a subordinate worked all weekend preparing the report. But even if we do, it simply will not mean as much to us as if it had been our own free time spent on company business.

Our own labors are always more real to us than those of our employees. And because of it, we will rarely give as much recognition as we would expect and hope to receive for the same amount of work.

In short, we will, time and again, give to others less than we would want to receive.

Further complicating the issue is that while recognition is a primary source of motivation, its lack is rarely a source of significant complaint or grievance.

Employees will not typically agitate or protest when they feel their efforts are going underappreciated. As a result, there might be few overt symptoms for a leader to “fix”.

But while a lack of recognition and appreciation may not cripple a workplace, it will steadily eat away at morale and blunt enthusiasm. It will not sink the ship but it will prevent the sails from becoming fully filled.

To effectively express gratitude, then, leaders must take into account and work to understand the perceptions of employees. They must strive to ascertain how employees view the recognition they are giving.

But most important of all, they must take the time to get to know the people they supervise. Just as generic gifts are never as meaningful as those that reflect a person’s individual likes and dislikes, generic recognition will never be as effective as appreciation that springs from a leader’s ongoing association with the person being recognized.

Recognition, then, can best be understood not as a tool leaders employ, but an expression of the quality of relationships they hold with others.

Appreciation: The Heart of Recognition

When it comes to the role of recognition in the workplace, the knowledge base is clear: we human beings want to be appreciated and valued in the work we do. Recognition, though, is only as good as the spirit that animates it. As a fundamentally above-the-line behavior, recognition can be disingenuous as easily as it… Continue Reading

Workplace Vision in Action: One Example

Employees can bring many things to the office, but workplace vision is not one of them. Vision is an element of organizational culture, and culture derives most directly from the actions and choices of leaders at all levels. But what does it mean for a leader to instill vision in to a workplace? What does… Continue Reading

Job Description vs. Vision

Why do people work? Or, put differently, towards what do people work? Most employees, if asked about their job, will describe the tasks they perform. “I keep the president’s calendar and make her travel arrangements,” they might say, or “I oversee maintenance and repair of the company’s network servers.” If you press further, asking what… Continue Reading

Vision, Vision Statements, and Leaders as a “Living Symbol”

A compelling sense of vision is integral to the operation of outstanding organizations. If vision is to go beyond mere talk, however, it must be embraced throughout the entirety of a workplace. Leaders must cultivate vision at all levels of organizational responsibility, for only if vision is meaningful to the frontline employees – those who… Continue Reading

Vision, Communication and the Front-Line Employee

Vibrant and meaningful vision is intimately tied to leaders’ dreams hopes for the future. To be effective, though, vision cannot, remain at the level of senior leadership. Only to the extent that it is communicated throughout an organization and collectively embraced does vision become relevant to the work of the organization and begin exerting influence… Continue Reading

Crafting Vision, Finding Vision

Given how frequently the word finds its way into discourse in management circles, it is worth considering what vision is and where it actually comes from. What is the genesis of a vibrant and compelling sense of organizational vision? It is not uncommon to hear people speak about creating or crafting vision. Such sentiments are… Continue Reading

Vision: The Emotional Connection

Much is said today about the role of vision in the workplace. Unfortunately vision is often approached primarily as a tool to be wielded or tactic to be deployed – a mechanistic and relatively superficial understanding unsuited to the task of  capturing employees’ imagination, enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment. A client once took us on a… Continue Reading

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