Appreciation is the most underutilized leadership tool. After working with literally 1000’s of employees as a fractional sales leader I’ve learned this first hand.
I’ve not encountered an employee who felt they got too much appreciation – and many who felt they didn’t get enough. Have you ever offered appreciation to someone and had them respond “please, enough of the platitudes. I know, I am wonderful!” I know I haven’t. I recall reading Keith Richard’s biography in which he talks about the relief and relaxation he felt after coming off the road, but that he had gotten used to 65,000 people per night chanting his name and came to miss it quite quickly!
Quite recently I was dealing with a pervasive and thorny Accounts Receivable issue at one of my clients. Sales was upset at some customers being put on credit hold and others not getting credit approval to open accounts. When I started asking around, I found that not only were these departments silo’ d, the walls were made of bricks. In speaking with the finance group I came to learn the challenges they were facing and quickly understood how critical their work was to the health of the company. They felt sales didn’t understand their pains. I expressed my sincere gratitude and appreciation for their hard work on a tough task, and the lift in spirits and tone of the conversation was immediate and palpable. I came to learn that no one had ever given them such appreciation.
In working with the marketing department at another client they were feeling down. The challenges they faced were significant and the amount of work on the plates was huge. They were very much struggling to keep their heads above water. As a sales group we decided to be overt in expressing our appreciation for their efforts. The VP marketing responded with “thanks so much for your overt appreciation. It’s great that my team knows how you feel!”. She felt the power of appreciation. Opening the door of appreciation was the start of a great collaborative relationship.
Overt expressions of sincere appreciation are often a surprise to the recipients because it is not often they get them. It lays the foundation for a positive working relationship and increases the likelihood that colleagues will extend themselves to help each other out. In these days of remote work and The Great Resignation having employees know that they are appreciated is nothing short of vital. Positive conversations in the hall or by the “watercooler” just aren’t possible anymore. Leaders need to be purposeful in expressing appreciation wherever and whenever they can.
If as leaders we don’t openly and regularly model appreciative behaviour we are missing an opportunity to anchor this into our company’s culture. Sincere displays of appreciation and gratitude seem to stimulate more of the same. It is an authentic and easy way to strengthen the fabric of any team. Knowing that your work matters and is appreciated is one of the top influencers in employee engagement and job satisfaction, and an easy one for leaders to satisfy.
If you’d like to discuss the power of appreciation further just let me know. Always happy to help. Rob