Category Archives: communication

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.

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

Communication: What Do You Believe?

“In no other area have intelligent men and women worked harder or with greater dedication than…on improving communications in our organizations. Yet communications has proved as elusive as the Unicorn.” These words are as true today as they were in 1973 when Peter Drucker first wrote them. Communication is an area in which many organizations… Continue Reading

Below-the-Line Inhibitors of Productive Communication

Many factors can inhibit the establishment of conditions that tend to characterize superior-functioning organizations .Leaders’ own below-the-line beliefs, values, and assumptions, however, can be particularly problematic. Consider, for example, the following: Unexamined assumptions that one is already communicating sufficiently with employees A failure to establish formal mechanisms to assess the quality of organizational communication systems… Continue Reading

Listening: Mastery of Our Own Self-Centered Tendencies

All of us listen. From morning to night we listen to spouses, kids, clients, friends, coworkers, and employees. But the very fact that we do it so much fools us into believing that we do it well. The reality, of course, is that our superficial and often scattered attention is no more listening than communication… Continue Reading

Conversation: Shared Frames of Reference

As organizations grow, they become increasingly reliant on one-directional forms of communication such as memos, newsletters, and speeches. These can be quite efficient in some respects, but the complexity, nuance, and detail they are able to convey is inherently limited. To clarify finer levels of understanding, then, conversation is needed. The ask-listen-discuss cycle of two-way… Continue Reading

Content Communication, Relational Communication (2 of 2)

Content communication — the whats, whens and whys of day-to-day interaction — is extremely seductive in its tangibility. But leaders cannot afford to underestimate the impact of relational communication in the functioning of any human system.    To understand the enormity of this influence, put yourself in the shoes of a woman working in an… Continue Reading

Content Communication, Relational Communication (1 of 2)

Communication can be divided into two broad categories: content and relational. Content is the what of any message. It is the facts and figures, the ideas and opinions that we transmit through e-mails, conversations, memos, or notes on the bulletin board. It is anything that can be expressed in words. Relational communication pertains to the… Continue Reading

Into the Void: Employee Efforts and the Leadership Feedback

Many organizations struggle to convey the rationale of organizational decisions as reliably as the operational details involved. A similar challenge concerns the feedback employees receive on the results of their efforts. Employees often say that they are given very little information about the impact of the day-in, day-out work they complete. They may be told… Continue Reading

Communication and the Challenge of Conveying Rationale

Of the many content areas workplace communication can be divided into, few are more prone to difficulties than organizational choices and decisions.  The who’s, what’s, and where’s of decisions are typically conveyed with acceptable clarity and consistency. The rationale behind them, however, is not.  In practical terms, this means that while employees typically receive the… Continue Reading

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