It’s basic human nature, we all like to feel valued and appreciated. For example, I remember going to a friends for dinner one evening. It was a delicious meal followed by a burnt pudding. But my friends and I heaped on the ice cream and ate the burnt pudding anyway. Later we joked with our hostess for the evening about how we all liked a bit of burnt pudding every now and then.
The meal may not have been perfect but she was cooking for us after spending all day at work, and we appreciated the effort she had put in.
But how does this relate to business?
Many companies choose to promote from within and whilst this can be great for the business and the employee’s career progression, sometimes these new managers have the technical and professional skills to do the job but lack the soft people skills needed to manage and motivate their team.
As a result small things that mean a lot to people, such as showing appreciation, can get missed. It’s not deliberate on the part of the new manager; it’s usually due to a lack of training or mentoring in such skills.
How to show appreciation
Managers who deliberately take the time to show their appreciation to their team members generally have more motivated and engaged teams, and reduced sickness absence and staff turnover.
Here are top five tips on how you can show appreciation to get the best out of your team.
1. Get your timing right
Appreciation has the most impact if it’s done immediately. If you can’t show your appreciation immediately then try to do it as soon as possible afterwards. Don’t wait for days, weeks or until the next team meeting or performance review to say thank you to your employees.
2. Be specific
The impact of saying thank you is much more effective if you let your team member know why it is you are thanking them, so be specific. Tell then what they did and the impact that it had either on you, the team or the business.
3. Be personal
Small things mean a lot so add the personal touch when showing your appreciation. Explain to them why you feel what they did was important and find the time to fully justify your thank you message. You should never copy and paste text you’ve written on someone else’s thank you.
4. Be authentic
Don’t force appreciation, and don’t give out ‘thank you’ to a quota otherwise it loses its impact and effectiveness. Only show appreciation for actions and behaviours that deserve it.
5. Make it a habit
Focus on making appreciation a habit, something that you just do. Once you are consistently showing your appreciation your team members are more likely to follow suit and show their appreciation to their co-workers. As a result your team will be willing to deliver a consistently better performance.
I think all managers want to show their appreciation to their staff, it’s just it gets lost at the bottom of the To Do List. In the rush to get things done and the pressure of responsibility, we can easily forget the importance of letting people know how much we appreciate them.
But showing appreciation to employees doesn’t have to be an onerous task, businesses can help their managers by providing training or mentoring on soft people skills and implementing systems and tools to help, and remind, managers to show their appreciation. As a result the whole business will benefit and not just those teams that have a good manager.
John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.