Many of us have seen this statement: a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected. If you saw it on social media, you may have even nodded agreement while reading it, liked the status, and then continued scrolling. Maybe your next thought was towards a boss in your own life; either with a thought of gratitude that you do feel appreciated, or a wishful sigh because you don’t.
Perhaps you are the boss, and you briefly considered whether you express appreciation to others. Maybe it even stuck with you until your next interaction with a member of your team, at which point you communicated thankfulness for what they do and then moved on to the next task on your to-do list. Or, maybe you wondered why you say thank you when your team doesn’t seem to meet expectations, let alone exceed them.
We inherently agree with the statement, but we may not fully consider why, or even more importantly, how we can appreciate the people in our lives. First, let’s define appreciation. According to Merriam-Webster, to appreciate is to grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of; to value or admire (2017).
If we consider what that means in relation to those we associate with, it is to recognize a person’s worth; to celebrate the quality of the relationship; to value the contributions another makes in your life. Focusing more specifically in the workplace, it is recognizing the worth of a member of your team; celebrating that they choose to work with and for you; and valuing what they contribute to you and your organization.
And again, most of us nod in agreement. We know that people need to be recognized, celebrated, and valued; that our team members want to be appreciated. Unfortunately, appreciation may not expressed consistently, and our team members may see the same quote and wishfully sigh.
As a leader, sometimes we get caught up in our own task-list. Sometimes we feel it unnecessary to appreciate people for doing what they are paid to do – whether showing up for work or performing the basic functions of their positions as expected. Sometimes we forget that human beings want to feel wanted, and the sense of being wanted is rooted in appreciation. We all desire to be appreciated for who we are, what we do, and how we contribute.
Use caution, though. Appreciation should be authentic or it will not resonate. We can’t just walk through the office and thank people for coming to work every day. Appreciation requires us to invest, to find specific and individual reasons to value our team members. It indicates that we’ve reflected on the qualities of our team members as individuals and sought to truly grasp their worth. It demonstrates to our team that we recognize their significance.
Appreciation requires time. It requires us to invest in others – uniquely and deliberately. The reward, however, can be dramatic. When people feel appreciated, they will always do more than is expected. This drives improvement. When we authentically appreciate others, we hasten their progress or development. People who progress more quickly within our organizations will accelerate the results of our organizations. Appreciation is a key that fuels the achievement of goals.
The leadership lesson? Authentically appreciate others to accelerate success.