Appreciation – a fine art and more


A boss wants to pay for results. An employee wants recognition for effort. If bosses recognise effort, they will get even better results – Simon Sinek

Recognition and appreciation. We often use these words interchangeably and think of them as the same thing. While they’re both important, there’s a big difference between them. For leaders who want their teams to thrive, and organisations which want to create cultures of engagement, loyalty and high performance, it’s important to understand the distinction.

Recognition is about giving positive feedback based on results or performance. Sometimes this happens in a formal way: an award, a bonus, a promotion or a raise. Sometimes, recognition is given more informally: a verbal thank you or a handwritten note. All of these methods can be meaningful, especially if they’re done in a timely and genuine way. They’re also motivating and exciting — everyone wants their good work to be applauded.

But there are some limits to recognition. First, it’s performance-based so it’s conditional. Second, it’s based on the past, so it’s about what people have already done. Third, it’s scarce. There’s a limited amount of recognition to go around — everyone can’t get a bonus or be mentioned by name in a memo — and it can be stressful when many people are vying for a finite amount of praise. Fourth, it generally has to come from the top. Many organisations have set up programmes which allow peers to highlight each other’s efforts, but the major forms of recognition (promotions, raises, and so many others) usually are given by senior leaders.

Appreciation, on the other hand, is about acknowledging a person’s inherent value. The point isn’t their accomplishments. It’s their worth as a colleague and a human being. In simple terms recognition is about what people do, appreciation is about who they are.

This distinction matters because recognition and appreciation are given for different reasons. Even when people succeed, inevitably, there will be failures and challenges along the way; depending on the project, there may not even be tangible results to point to. If you focus solely on praising positive outcomes, on recognition, you miss out on lots of opportunities to connect with and support your team members — to appreciate them.

Appreciation is one of the principal motivators for any employee at his or her workplace. Appreciation drives employees to work sincerely and to be more dedicated to their employers. Words of appreciation at workplace is directly connected to job satisfaction and happiness at workplace.

Appreciation is one of the core values that hold enduring and successful companies together. It is a value that helps a company grow and be powerful.

Appreciation should be Specific and Explicit, Personal and Judicious, and Well-timed.

When an employee and his work are appreciated, his satisfaction and, thus, his productivity improves. He gets motivated to maintain the standard or to improve on it. Showing gratitude and employee recognition from employers also plays an important role in retaining workers. Employees get attached to workplaces where ethical climates prevail.

Money is not the only reward that expresses appreciation. Many employees would feel more satisfied and happier if their employers treated them unexpectedly with ‘thank you’ notes, gifts, lunches, dinners, or snacks. Even cost-effective means of appreciation are enough to express that the employees are valued.

I remember coming to work to see a note on my table from my boss expressing how I filled in well when he was away. I framed it because for me, it felt really good. My first boss also got me a certificate for getting it right the first time.

A culture of appreciation contributes to a culture of passion, power and profitability as employees know they are important. Appreciation constitutes a relationship’s vitality and a vital relationship is what produces the best that a company has to offer.

Every human being needs to know that he is important to other people. Although it is not often spoken, people need to be valued, thought about, and noticed. This need is a present and constant one. Appreciation or recognition becomes meaningless if it is offered too late.

Can there be over appreciation? Can over appreciation lead to complacency?

The answer is ‘No’. Nobody stops doing the thing for which he is praised. The behaviour or job that is appreciated is continued, and recipients of praise also focus on enhanced improvement. There can be nothing such as sufficient or excess appreciation.

Every employee remembers every instance when they have been recognised at their workplace. Irrespective of whether it is a simple ‘Good Job’ or a dinner treat, every worker loves to be appreciated and valued.

An employer, leader or manager, on understanding the importance of gratitude and appreciation and their direct impact on the workplace, should formulate a positive appreciation plan that would fit the values, culture and mission of the company, and would engage and benefit all employees.

Making appreciation easy and contagious

The best part of appreciation is that it’s free and doesn’t consume a lot of time. Anyone at any level can offer appreciation. It can be directed toward an employee, a colleague or a boss. But when leaders get involved in the effort, a culture of appreciation spreads more quickly.

At the end of the day, building a culture of appreciation comes down mostly to a lot of small common sense practices: Not taking your people for granted. Remembering to say ‘thank you’ in a personal and sincere way. Making it clear that you’re interested in your employees’ growth and in them as individuals.

Understand that ‘You can be replaced’ is not a motivation to employees.
You are simply making a loyal and productive employee to lose motivation.

Appreciating employees without threatening to fire them is a fast way to boost productivity.

Start by expressing more gratitude to those around you and see what happens. You might be surprised at what a big difference the little things can make. Note that maintaining the Most Valuable Assets is mostly by appreciation, Not by Compensation.

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