How can I say 'thanks?' Let me share the ways
Smart manager blows it
the request of Lori Millonzi,
of the ITD Employee Recognition and Awards Committee
By David Lee, Human Nature at Work
I just had an experience that reminded me of how often even
really brilliant managers neglect to use the "secret weapon" of the
best managers and best employers. It’s the practice that perhaps more than
anything spurs employees on to work harder.
So what is the practice that leads to a more motivated, committed, engaged
Expressing appreciation and gratitude.
Oh, by the way, lack of appreciation was
cited by the Department of Labor as the number one reason employees leave their
Think of your own experience as an employee over
the years. Think of how rarely if ever you had a boss express appreciation when
you went the extra mile, worked extra hours, or done an exceptional job on a
Think of what a “motivation killer” that was. Even though you still worked hard
and did a great job because of your work ethic and professional pride, your
heart was just a little less into your work.
You probably cared just a little bit less.
After awhile, the cumulative effort of being taken for granted reaches the
tipping point, and the loyal, hard working employee becomes what Gallup calls
ROAD Warriors-Retired On Active Duty—or they simply looks for more
Here’s What Not to Do
First, I’ll share with you the "what not to
do" story, then we’ll get to the “here’s an example of what to do” story
in my next post.
Recently I finished up a project helping an organization improve their on-boarding
process for sales people. One of the managers in this company—I’ll call
him Justin—played an essential role in helping me understand the
day-to-day realities and requirements of their new sales people. Not only was
he helpful, but he was also very generous with his help, telling me never to
hesitate to call if I needed more input or feedback. Throughout our working
together, I made sure Justin knew how much I appreciated both the quality of
his insights and his willingness to give of his time, despite his onerous work
When I finished the project, I told Justin I would write a letter to the Senior
VP of his department, letting him know how helpful Justin had been, and what
specific qualities Justin demonstrated that were so useful.
Before sending the letter out, I emailed Justin a copy—in part as another
way of letting him know how much I appreciated his help—and to let him
know what specifically he did that was so helpful.
I then sent the letter on to the senior VP.
A couple weeks later, I e-mailed Justin to see what the Senior VP said to him
about the letter.
Not a word.
Wake up dude!
As I think about this Senior VP, who is a brilliant
individual, I can’t help but think "You had this opportunity spoon fed to
you to praise one of your hardest working, most dedicated, and most innovative
managers and you blew it. Come on! Wake up!”
A missed opportunity
Here was a great opportunity for the VP to not only
express appreciation and recognize a high-value employee, but also a great
opportunity to communicate that he values the specific behaviors demonstrated
by the manager.
This is one of the under-recognized benefits of showing appreciation and
recognition: when you acknowledge—with specificity—the good work
that you notice, you reinforce it.
OK, so what to do with this simple little
cautionary tale? Practice paying attention for opportunities to express appreciation
To prime your brain for this, you might want to think about the various people
you work with right now. Think of key players one by one and consider:
* What they do that you appreciate
* How they help make your job easier or help you maximize your productivity.
* What they do exceptionally well.
Then be on the lookout for opportunities to let them know this. It can be as
“Connie, I was just reading an article about appreciation and the article was
suggesting that you think of people who are especially helpful and to let them
know that…and I thought of you immediately. I SO appreciate how easy you are to
work with. If something needs to get done, you do it. You never complain or
make it sound like an imposition. I really appreciate that.”
“Krista, I was just reading an article about appreciation and the article was
suggesting that you think of people who do something you really appreciate and
to let them know that. So I thought of you.
I starting thinking about how much I appreciate the fact that you really
listen. There aren’t a lot of people who truly listen and want to understand
what the other person is saying, and I so appreciate that you do. Thank you for
that. It means a lot to me.”
Here’s an article on this topic to share with your fellow managers:
Your Employees: Do You Appreciate Them or
Take Them For Granted?