Show your appreciation

How often do you stop and say a simple “thanks for all your work” to the people around you? If you’re like most of us, the answer is not very often. Caught up in the daily grind, it can be hard enough to remember to go to the bathroom let along take the time to recognize someone else’s efforts.

Turns out it’s more important than you think. Eric Barker in the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog notes the following from the new book The Power of Moments:

“Carolyn Wiley of Roosevelt University reviewed four similar studies of employee motivation conducted in 1946, 1980, 1986 and 1992. In each of the studies, employees were asked to rank the factors that motivated them. Popular answers included “interesting work,” “job security,” “good wages,” and “feeling of being in on things.” Across the studies, which spanned 46 years, only one factor was cited every time as among the top two motivators: “full appreciation of work done”.”

Many years ago, I was talking with a good friend about how to keep team spirits up and I still use his advice today. It ties in nicely with the point made in the quote: he said, “don’t forget to celebrate the small stuff”.

The big occasions are easy. Put up some banners around the place. Throw a shindig. Take everyone to Hawaii — or at the very least to a nice restaurant.

The small stuff gets bowled over in the daily rush to get to the next thing that needs doing. The deadline that gets met against all odds. A thorny customer problem solved. Getting a process in place that people want actually use.

And I’m not talking about balloons and streamers here (although I love a nice yellow balloon). Just stopping for a few minutes, sitting with the good feelings and sharing them with someone else can carry us forward to the next hard thing with a spring in our step.

To learn more about why you should sweat the small stuff, click here.

Working on a project a few years ago, the theme played out yet again. I asked 250 people what would carry them across the canyon that stood between how they currently worked as a team and the way they wanted to work.

The number one thing on the list? Say thank you in person. No email blast to the team, no shout-out in the weekly newsletter, just a quiet and heartfelt “thank you for all your work and effort”. And if you can’t make the 20-foot walk to that person’s desk to say it face-to-face, leave them a handwritten note, or craft a personal email, text message or personal direct message. The options today are myriad — so what’s stopping you?

Simple appreciation might just be the definition of small stuff and it doesn’t cost a thing. It also quickly goes by the wayside in the daily hubbub or getting stuff done. So next time you’re trying to get your workforce’s spirits up, step out of the daily grind, stop, look around and say “thanks so much for all your work”. It might not be the only way to a robust and resilient brand result, but it’s a damn good place to start.

See you next week.

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