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Home » All, Business, Curiosity, Gratitude, Relationships, _1 Positive Experiences

Appreciation at Work

By on February 3, 2011 – 7:26 am  7 Comments

Amanda Horne is an executive coach and facilitator whose business theme is "Thriving People and Workplaces." She is an Authentic Happiness Coaching graduate and a founding member of Positive Workplace International. Full bio.

Amanda's articles are here.



“Feeling Under-Appreciated In Your Current Role?”   This was the catchy title of a company’s job advertisement placed in Australian newspapers in 2006. At that time the advertisement inspired me to write an article about the importance of appreciation in the workplace. I’ve returned to this topic again because of the stories which friends and clients have shared over the past few weeks. All have either made positive changes in their jobs or their working conditions, or are not happy with where they are working now.

Feeling Valued

A common theme throughout their stories is their desire to feel appreciated and valued. For example:

  • A boss missed an opportunity to retain a valuable employee by not properly valuing staff.
     
  • A friend who moved to part-time work to make time for other interests was disappointed that the manager dampened the enthusiasm by not fully understand my friend’s motives.
     
  • After moving to a new company a satisfied friend commented, “This new company really looks after its people – unlike where I previously worked.”
     
  • A number of clients have lost their enthusiasm at work because they feel unappreciated by their managers. The general feeling is that if managers would just take time to get to know us and our motivations, they would make great leaders.

Pay Attention!

Pay Attention!

What are People Experiencing?
 

Last week the Australian Institute of Management (Victoria & Tasmania) released the results of their employee engagement survey. It shows that 40% of the 3,368 respondents felt unappreciated in their roles at work.

“The survey shows that negativity and apathy are present in the ranks of too many Australian organisations.”

In an article by Julia Stirling, Susan Heron (Chief Executive of AIM (Vic & Tasmania) emphasizes the importance of creating a good workplace culture. She comments, “You’ve got to have employees feeling valued, that they are listened to and understood. You need to make sure that employees know that what they do makes a difference and what they do matters.”

“The #1 reason people leave their jobs: they don’t feel appreciated.” (Tom Rath and Donald Clifton)

Building Appreciation

Appreciation is much more than saying, “Thank you, job well done,” although that can certainly be a start.

In 2006 at the Gallup Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., a CEO panel discussed the importance of relationships at work. They all agreed that appreciation is vital in great leadership. This involves paying attention to people, showing respect, valuing people, and building their efficacy, strengths, and confidence. This can be a human undertaking that creates strong, respectful relationships.

Turning to some recent Positive Psychology-related publications, I considered how a person could use the ideas of positive emotions and strengths to become more skillful at appreciation.

What Do We Learn From Positive Emotions?

Barbara Fredrickson lists 10 positive emotions in her book, Positivity. I can easily see ways that the following items from her list generate an attitude of appreciation.

  1. Gratitude: Notice the people to whom we are grateful. Express genuine thanks, including explaining specifically what it was they did and why it was important
     
  2. Interest: Be curious, open and interested in other people. Get to know them and understand them without judgment. What makes them tick?
     
  3. Pride: Look for what makes people feel proud, what they have achieved. Acknowledge these successes.
     
  4. Humor: Lighten up. Being overly serious and critical, and focusing only on people’s problems robs us of the chance to build stronger bonds within our teams.
     
  5. Inspiration: Whose actions inspire you? Let them know.

These forms of positivity not only create a great working environment. They are also ways to make people feel appreciated and valued.

“Your positivity is energizing to those around you.” (Fredrickson)

What Strengths Make a Difference?

Alex Linley, Janet Willars, and Robert Biswas-Diener list sixty strengths in The Strengths Book. I selected the following sample because each contributes to appreciation.

  1. Compassion: caring about people and wanting the best for them
     
  2. Curiosity: being interested, asking questions
     
  3. Emotional awareness: judging others’ emotions, feelings and picking up subtle clues
     
  4. Empathetic connection: tuning in to people, seeing their points of view
     
  5. Enabler: developing people, supporting, encouraging, and helping them to grow
     
  6. Fairness: treating people with respect and fairness
     
  7. Esteem builder: building confidence and self-esteem in others, noticing their potential
     
  8. Humility: valuing others for the help and support they provide to you, being humble and not taking all the credit
     
  9. Listener: showing a keen interest, focusing intently on the person
     
  10. Personalisation: noticing the things that make people unique
     
  11. Rapport Builder: finding something of interest in each person
     
  12. Relationship Deepener: Getting to know people and strengthening relationships
     
  13. Service: helping someone and anticipating needs
     
  14. Unconditionality: accepting people for who they are – genuinely and without judgment

Concluding Question
If you’re thinking about how you can motivate your staff, consider how you can value them and help them to feel uniquely appreciated – in an authentic way. What would you do?

 


 

References

Linley, P. A., Willars, J. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). The Strengths Book: Be Confident, Be Successful, and Enjoy Better Relationships by Realising the Best of You.

Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown.

Rath, T. (2004). How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life New York: Gallup Press.

Stirling, J. (29 January 2011) . Workers in search of the exit.  The Australian.
(Wiith thanks to my friend Bert van Halen for bringing this article to my attention)


 

Photos by Amanda Horne

7 Comments »

  • Todd Kashdan says:

    Interesting how curiosity is the only characteristic on both lists. Somebody should do something with that topic…….

    the idea of gratitude generating appreciation appears to be tautological or am I missing something.

  • John Burik says:

    Yeah, Todd, maybe somebody should write a book, eh?! 😉

  • Steven | TEM says:

    Very relevant advice for today’s economic conditions. Nice to see positive psychology is crossing over with industrial organizational. It is much needed!

  • oz says:

    Amanda – mindfulness seems to be a theme here. Think a biggy that is missed is flexibility – ie flexible thinking and behaviours

  • Amanda Horne says:

    Hi Todd – well, actually, that’s not too much of a coincidence 😉 Curiosity and openness have been of greater interest since reading your book and I have noticed how this skill / strength / emotion can contribute to other people feeling valued when on the receiving end of one’s non-judgemental interest/ curiosity.

    On gratitude is appreciation, I agree: tautological. But I also wondered whether it’s possible that there are some people who do not naturally express gratitude but who are able to show appreciation in other ways might enjoy expanding their appreciation repertoire.

    John and Steve – Thanks!

    Oz – yes, I definitely agree about your comment on mindfulness (you know that!). Cheeky thought: perhaps one day PPND will be MND. Flexible thinking, perspective, open mindedness etc would all result in being more appreciative. It would be great to hear from the Realise2 people about where in their work these can be found. In this article I limited the ideas to drawing only from their work, and from Fredrickson’s. Broadening the field would bring in many other ideas for how to expand appreciation, not to mention people’s practical experiences.

    Amanda

  • Christina says:

    Well said Amanda, you included all the points that a person should consider in his work place.

  • Nadya Peeva says:

    I’ve always had the good fortune of working with wonderful people and to feel appreciated and valued and I can say from personal experience that appreciation is indeed a major factor in engagement and work satisfaction. Thank you for a very informative article!

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