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Appreciation at Workplace: Empower You and Your Team

Recently, I interacted with an old colleague who had shared his experience of working for a Fintech company as a Senior Manager for over 7 years. During his tenure, he led multiple projects with his team but believed that he was not appreciated enough for his efforts. Are his feelings justified in expecting appreciation for doing what he was appointed to do?

I face these questions when I hear or read about the topic of appreciation, why should team members be appreciated if they have only fulfilled their responsibilities? If team members complete a task they are supposed to complete on time and of the quality specified, why should they be appreciated for doing precisely that? Have the proponents of psychology at the workplace not overhyped this concept of appreciation?

I find psychologists and trainers use pages to write, and days to train potential leaders advising to appreciate team members regularly. They discovered that it is one of the most powerful motivators and drivers of action at the workplace, with a direct impact on work results and employee engagement.

The Pandemic and The Great Resignation are believed to have forced organisations to dive deeper and study the behaviours of employees that have led to such distorting repercussions. Taking this into consideration, it is believed that they have realised the importance of ministering a strong tradition of expressing gratitude and appreciation in the system, which was not earlier paid much attention to.

To gain more clarity, I searched for information to help me understand, “why should a team member be appreciated”. And Google flooded me with the mantras of engagement, high performance, feeling valued, improved self-worth and resultant business benefits. I am almost convinced with the above notions, but the question then is, how can I strengthen my viewpoint and learn how to appreciate better?

To answer that, I found some practical tips that will help me in developing the art of appreciating better. Here’s how it goes:

1. Practice appreciation by starting with yourself

Reflecting upon yourself is an important factor in manoeuvring through the journey of self appreciation. A person who cannot appreciate themselves also cannot appreciate others. It all starts with you. Rewarding yourself, spending time doing what you love, or something as simple as celebrating small accomplishments will help you appreciate the greatness within you and, in turn, others.

When you appreciate yourself, you experience joy within, which is the same feeling that others feel when they are appreciated. Imagine having the power to share that feeling of happiness with others. Doesn’t it feel great? Additionally, finding new opportunities and ways to praise your employees’ tenure, hitting a milestone, extra efforts or overcoming major hurdles blends in naturally with your style.

2. Increase your level of optimism

Gratitude is associated with optimism and has been determined that grateful people are happier, less stressed and tend to be more positive in nature. Workplace optimism helps one to look beyond negative outcomes and focus on goal-oriented behaviours. It drives you to engage in reinforcing the importance of the future vision in order to achieve goals.

Employers play a key role in facilitating an environment that allows employees to thrive in optimism. Having a positive approach to employees helps in being more empathetic and reducing aggression. When workplace optimism is present, employees are inclined to believe in the possibility rather than idolising problems.

3. Appreciation is not equal to recognition

These two terms may have been used interchangeably, but in reality; they are way different. Sometimes, leaders are not entirely aware of how to appreciate and often compensate for their behaviours by providing recognition. Understanding that appreciating is intrinsically linked to attaching value to the person and is fundamentally different from recognising them, which is related to job performance, will help one gain more clarity and appreciate better.

Appreciating employees gives them a sense of pride. Knowing that they add value to the organisation helps in facilitating the much-needed qualities in today’s world like overcoming setbacks/failures and enhancing resilience to bounce back from highly stressful situations.

4. Learn the language of appreciation

Admittedly, most of us express our gratitude to others in our own language, not theirs. Learning their language helps in establishing a connection that can lead to higher engagement among employees and exhibits a sense of belonging to the team or organisation. Identify and use the language of appreciation valued by the employee by observing their behaviours and actively listening while interacting, as it may waver from person to person.

Leaders should also consider how generational differences and operating remotely can affect employees’ needs and styles of receiving praise. Understand and customise your way for every employee for the best results! Learn this trick and allow yourself to express your gratitude in the most effective way possible!

5. Becoming intentional in appreciating

Do you really appreciate others just for the sake of doing so or have you thought of serving a greater purpose? Being deliberate in your approach means understanding the intention, the role of the individual and the purpose for expressing gratitude.

Intentional appreciation increases your ability to fully engage your team and should be imbibed as a part of your leadership style. The simple act of expressing genuine gratitude provokes us to feel grateful and helps us in dealing with negativity in ways that strengthen and empower us.

It only takes a few minutes a day to look around and appreciate the little things in life. Appreciating self and others helps in refocusing on what one has instead of what one lacks. With my findings, I can only provide the first step toward mastering the art of appreciation. The rest is all on you. What does it mean if you’re not appreciative of yourself, others, and the little things around you? How else do you feel content?

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