5 ways to show appreciation - Dr. Bob

Often called “The Greatest Management Principle in the World,” the notion that recognizing employees will help you get more of the desired behavior or performance is one of the most proven axioms of management. Yet as simple and seemingly easy as this is to do, most employees report that they are rarely, if ever, thanked, praised, or appreciated for those things they’ve done well in their jobs. 

Solving this challenge doesn’t have to be difficult! In fact, it often takes very little time and doesn’t need to cost much money to acknowledge performance and the person or group that achieved those results. 

Here are five easy ways to show appreciation for your employees today and, ideally, develop a habit or routine of “catching people doing something right” on an ongoing basis. Doing so will raise your stock as a leader and serve as a magnet for talent:

  1. Provide a Personal Thanks
    Take the time to personally thank employees for something they have done well – ideally face-to-face, but if that’s not feasible, via a phone call or Zoom meeting. Do this as soon as possible after the achievement (the sooner, the more reinforcing your thanks will be, and the more likely the results will be repeated). Be sincere in your gratitude, citing specifics where possible. Say why what they did was important by connecting the achievement to a larger context (such as a group goal or company value), and add a personal touch about how their success made you feel to hit home with an emotional punch.
    Remember: Time is of the essence. A small moment of appreciation done quickly has a huge impact. 
  1. Jot down a Written Note of Appreciation
    Writing a note can be on a Post-it or in a card that they can post in their work environment, re-read or share with one or more significant others or save in a “Victory File” of positive items they have received in their job from others: their boss, co-workers, or clients, for example. A note of thanks has a multiplier effect each time the message is re-read or shared with others who are essential to the employee.
    Remember: Notes and gifts can remind a person of how much their appreciated again and again.
  1. Use an Electronic Form of Thanks
    An email, text, or voicemail message can work wonders – it could be via a messaging app for business, such as Slack, or through an incentive software platform. Make sure to copy others on the communication, including the person’s manager, executive, the immediate team, or even a client who worked with the employee for maximum impact.
    Remember: Making appreciation visible to others amplifies the effect! 
  1. Offer a Public Form of Thanks 
    Do it in front of others, which can be just a few people at the start of a group meeting or the entire department or company. Some forms of thanks can be posted on a company bulletin board, website, or even placed in the local newspaper. You can create a “Wall of Fame” in your office for outstanding accomplishments and those individuals who made those successes happen or even create a “Projects Scrapbook” with photos of various teams and the successes and achievements they had.
    Remember: Making appreciation visible to others amplifies the effect! 
  1. Provide a Small Gift or Memento 

Commemorate the achievement! Doing this will serve as a reminder for time to come of the accomplishment as they use the item or show it to others, each time providing a fresh reminder of what they achieved and how it was valued where they work. Since everyone is motivated by different things, providing them a choice of what they receive will increase the motivational value of the item to each person. One size does not fit all when it comes to successful motivation!

These suggestions are just a starting point for gaining traction in better appreciating your employees. As you get to know your employees better, you can customize your forms of appreciation to be more on the mark going forward. For example, whereas most everyone values being appreciated, some employees prefer private recognition, some prefer more public forms of recognition, and some prefer both!

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Bob Nelson, Ph.D., is the leading advocate for employee recognition and engagement worldwide, president of Nelson Motivation Inc. (www.drbobnelson.com), and creator of Employee Appreciation Day. His books have sold over 5 million copies and, in additional to 1,501 Ways to Reward Employees, include The 1,001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees, and 1,001 Ways to Energize Employees. He frequently presents for management teams, conferences, and associations about strategies for better motivating today’s employees. You can contact him directly at bob@drbobnelson.com or by phone at (858) 218-5049.

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