A lot has been spoken, written, and advocated about appreciation. Appreciation has always been considered as a key tool to motivate an employee, foster a culture of engagement and to create an effective & high performing team.
What do you think appreciation means?
Is it just merely saying a Thank You and patting the back on a good job, or is it cementing right behaviors and values in an individual? We all appreciate, however most of us lack in one big element of appreciation, which is “magnitude or quantum of appreciation”
Close to two decades of me working with people at various levels, leading, guiding and developing them, appreciating has not been an easy task. There are three common mistakes that every manager commits sometime or the other, and me being one of them. It is so common that anyone can miss on the harm it does and if corrected well, the impact it leaves.
“GOOD JOB” SYNDROME
Let us begin with a question. Do you have a happy team, always cheerful, hardworking, performing satisfactorily and, overall everyone is good at their job? But, your team fails to break the ceiling and panics during peaks which demands high performance. You have good team members, but when it comes to moving someone up the ladder, you feel someone is not ready yet. Well, in that case the reason could be you, in a situation when all you say to your associates for a job well done, irrespective of its impact on business, customer experience, process development or initiative, is “Good Job“.
How many times have you heard this from your manager or have said it yourself to your associates? Have you been the victim of “Good Job” for any kind of job that is done? And landed up getting a lame response on certain occasions, sometimes with a fake smile or a mere “Thank You” in a low voice. If that is the case, then you are stuck with “Good Job Syndrome”, and not to worry, you are not alone.
This is how “Good job syndrome” looks like. Imagine John is your Sales Manager.
He gets a business worth $2,000. You say with excitement “Good Job John”. He again gets a business, and this time its worth $6,000. You again say with same excitement “Good Job John”. He again gets a business and this time even bigger, $10,000. You say again with additional excitement “Good Job John” added by shaking hand vigorously. How motivated will you be, if you are John?
Most of us would haven been a victim to this, where every job well done, irrespective of its quality and magnitude, is a “good job”. This generally happens when Managers have failed to define the quality of appreciation in resonance with the choice of words used to express their gratitude. Another reason could be where in the Manager himself does not know what is a good and what is exceptional. Does it ring a bell?
Well its not that difficult a problem to fix and can be done with some easy homework’s. Make list of adjectives for yourself that is commonly used for appreciating people. Let us say Good; Very Good; Well Done; Excellent; Great & Exceptional.
Define what is Good and what is Exceptional, and everything else in between. Unless you know the how to differentiate between a good job and an exceptional job, your team will never know the difference between a good performance and an exceptional performance.
Now look back at John’s performance and figure out for yourself, which is Good, and which is Exceptional, or something in between.
Appreciating an associate is important, and what is extremely important is appreciating in right quantum which they deserve.
WHAT TO APPRECIATE
Results are driven by processes. Processes are driven by People. People are driven by their motives, actions, and behaviors.
It is important to find out underlying values, behaviors and actions, that goes behind a task done well. Let us go back to John. Do you think the effort required for $2000 business would be same as $10,000? Of course not.
Look at yourself, did you reach wherever you are because of your knowledge on MS Office, or recognition email by clients or securing some high-flying business. Superficially “Yes” because that is what is visible to the world. It is like a tip of an iceberg. However, only you know within yourself that what all you had to do to secure that one business or to get than one recognition email from client.
What has made you who you are today, is your eagerness to learn, your patience & persistence, your follow-up mechanism, your belief system, your stakeholders relationship, never say die attitude and many other such qualities. Regardless of whichever organisation you work, which client you deliver, which team you manage, these qualities remain innate to you, and that is what needs to get appreciated, the underlying behaviors, actions, and values. When you start doing that, you set up a system to get more of similar results.
So, when John gets a $20,000 business next time, he just should not get a “Good Job”, he deserves more, and one of the ways you can do it is
“John, I am extremely pleased and thankful to you for securing an extremely valuable piece of business. Your foresightedness to see this piece of business well before time, timely follow-ups, and the bonding you have developed with the client is commendable. Your hard work, dedication and commitment has paid off well. Excellent display of quality work. Keep it up. And you can make it exceptional when we deliver them exactly what they want. You have all my support.”
Use whatever style you prefer; however, the key is to know WHAT you want to appreciate.
Results are a by-product of behaviors, values, and actions of a human functioning in resonance with each other in a desired way.
HOW TO DELIVER
An appreciation if not delivered well is of no value. Close your eyes and try to remember the best appreciation that you ever received in your life. How did it look and feel?
Were there a group of people clapping for you on your great work? Did your manager spoke great things about you? Did he look into your eyes and you were able to see the pride in his eyes of having you in his team? Did you feel valued, and how did he make you feel it?
Appreciate in public & reprimand in person – we all know this mantra. Sticking to the former part of sentence, how effectively do we use it, is the key to effective appreciation. Every level of appreciation from GOOD to EXCEPTIONAL should have a different approach to get delivered, as it demands individual performance to function at elevated level, to change the result from Good to Exceptional.
Use the different platforms available to you in your business unit and explore the possibilities which you can use to appreciate your colleagues. Below is just a reference on how you can use available platforms.
Do not forget, the only thing that your can give your peers, subordinates, and colleagues, is appreciation.