Category Archives: Appreciation

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

Recognition, Thanks, and Motivation

The link between recognition and motivation in the workplace are clear. We need only look to our own experience — the pride we felt when our work was praised by an appreciative supervisor, the improvement in our outlook when we were sincerely thanked for the grunt work we do month in and month out —… Continue Reading

The Most Profound Form of Recognition

We have previously suggested that recognition is, at the most fundamental level, an acknowledgement of the worth of a human being. But how can we tell if someone really values us? What demonstrates their regard? What are its tangible, outward manifestations? When asked this question in workshops, participants often say things like “they seek me out,”… Continue Reading

Appreciating What Employees Do and *Can* Do

Recognizing employees’ efforts is critical to building workplace morale  and motivation. But it can also play an important role in building new skills and capacities. We once surveyed a software development firm in Nebraska. Meeting with a cross section of staff members, we asked a range of open-ended questions, one of which was, “How do… Continue Reading

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