A Letter from the CEO
Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said, “There are two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.” Time and time again the one motivating factor at the top of most employee’s lists is appreciation for a job well done. It is more requested than the green stuff, money.
So, why don’t more managers, owners, and employees give appreciation? Some people state they don’t know how to give appreciation. Others don’t know what to give appreciation for in the work environment. Yet others say they are too busy to give appreciation.
Remember the old saying, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” Well, that is what giving appreciation is about. You can invest in your employees now and “pay” them with sincere appreciation and achieve even better performance. Or you will “pay” later by seeing your team’s performance sink and overall morale decrease.
The following are five motivation tips to giving sincere appreciation that will motivate your team to soar to a higher level and achieve more:
1. Be Specific
In order to get the same behavior or action again, you need to let the employee know exactly what action(s) you are appreciating. For example, the typical appreciation attempt sounds like this:
“Mike, you did a great job earlier today. Keep up the good work!”
“Thanks.” (Mike is thinking what is he complimenting me on?)
The correct way:
“Mike, you did a great job on the report earlier today. I can see you invested a lot of time on the report by the detail you put in it. I really appreciate the effort. Thank you.”
“I appreciate you noticed the time I put into the report. Thanks.” (Mike is thinking the manager really did read it and appreciates his effort. I will be glad to do it again.)
As you can see, the employee has a clear understanding of what action the manager is showing appreciation for and he is motivated to take on the project again.
2. Be Timely
Make sure you show appreciation as soon as possible for the action you appreciate. The further the distance in time between the appreciation and the action the less impact it will have to motivate the employee.
“Mike, the report you submitted six months ago was great. Keep up the good work. Thanks!”
“Thanks, I think. What report are you taking about?”
Always find the time to show appreciation in a timely manner. Even if you need to drop something else, take time to appreciate your employees and co-workers.
3. Be Fair
When appreciation is shown, one of the key concerns is it doesn’t seem fair. The biggest villain of this is the dreaded “Employee of the Month” award. Many times when you ask the “Employees of the Month” what they did to earn the recognition, they say, “I don’t know.” I have one action you must take when giving appreciation…be consistent!
- Clearly state the rules for appreciation so that everyone understands how appreciation is earned.
- Be consistent when showing appreciation. If one employee does a favorable action and you show appreciation and another employee does the same or similar action and you don’t show appreciation, you have just sown the seeds of bad morale and feelings of favoritism.
- Always be on the lookout for “finding something good” your employees do well. Once you achieve this mindset, you will always find the good and increase morale and productivity within your team and organization.
- Be pure in your appreciation. If you show appreciation, don’t muddle it with other communication. In other words, don’t show appreciation for one action and then start discussing a potential corrective action for another action. This sends mixed signals that may make the receiver think, “I don’t want any appreciation because there is always something bad attached to it.” Keep it pure!
4. Be Public, if Possible
Appreciation is not something you hide. It works best when done publicly. Show your appreciation in a public way in meetings, in front of team members, and especially management. The funny thing is that once you get in the habit of doing this, many of your team members will increase the activity they need to take to also earn this public appreciation.
5. Be “Relational”
When employees are asked, “Why do you come to work everyday?,” they often say “to get paid” as the first answer. Then as we discuss it further, it always comes down to “I feel like I make a difference” as the main answer. In most cases, the reason why employees decide to climb out of bed in the morning, their toes touch the floor, and they decide to drive to work is that they feel that they make a difference where they work.
Relate the action done with how it affects the team, department and organization. Let’s go back to our earlier examples to complete the appreciation process:
“Mike, you did a great job on the report for the new computer system earlier today. I can see you invested a lot of time to do the research so that we have the necessary information to request the computer system. Mike, we appreciate your efforts because the new computer system will make our team more productive so that the department will achieve its goals and the company will be profitable this year. Bottom line, bigger bonuses for everyone. I look forward to seeing your high level of work in the future. Thank you.”
“Thanks. I appreciate making a difference. Please let me know whatever I can do to help the team.”
Mike has a clear sense of achievement and where he fits in the company. Also, the manager encouraged Mike to do the same behavior soon by saying, “I look forward to seeing your high level of work in the future.” And the manager ended with two of the most powerful words that show appreciation…”thank you.”
These are five simple motivation tips that will show appreciation and motivate your employees to achieve more with a minimum amount of efforts. Starting today, apply these appreciation techniques and you will see a world of difference in your team, department, and organization. Remember, “pay” yourself by showing your employees appreciation now or “pay” yourself with a low performing team later. Appreciate your employees! Motivate your team! Achieve success!