Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said, “There are two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.” Time and time again the one motivating factor that is at the top of most employees’ list is appreciation for a job well done. It is requested more than the green stuff, money.
Why don’t more managers, owners, and employees give appreciation?
Some people state they don’t know how to give it.
Others say they don’t know what to give.
Still others say they are too busy to give or show appreciation. I think this is one of the biggest sins of managers, being too busy to give appreciation for a job well done.
Remember what the old transmission commercials used to say, "You can pay me now or you can pay me later." Well, that is what giving appreciation is about. You can invest in your employees now and "pay" them with sincere appreciation and achieve even better performance. Or, you will "pay" later when you see your team’s performance sink and overall morale decrease.
The following are six tips to giving sincere appreciation that will motivate your team to soar to higher levels and achieve more:
1. Be Specific - In order to get the same behavior or action again you need to let the employee know exactly what action(s) you are appreciating.
2. Be Timely - Make sure you show appreciation as soon as possible to the action you appreciate. The further the distant in time between the appreciation and the action the less impact it will have to motivate the employee. Always find time to show appreciation, even if you need to drop something else.
3. Be Consistent – being fair with everyone and allow everyone to play on the same “appreciation playing field.”
First, clearly state the rules for appreciation so that everyone understands how it is earned.
Second, be consistent when showing appreciation. If one employee does a favorable action and you show appreciation and another employee does the same or similar action and you don’t show appreciation you have just sewn the seeds of bad morale and feelings of favoritism.
Third, always be on the lookout for "finding something good" your employees do well. Once you achieve this mindset you will always find the good and increase morale and productivity within your team and organization.
Fourth, be pure in your appreciation. If you show appreciation, don’t muddle it with other communication. In other words, don’t show appreciation for one action and then start discussing a potential corrective measure for another action. This sends mixed signals that say to the receiver of this communication, "I don’t want any appreciation because there is always something bad attached to it." Keep it pure!
4. Be Public, if possible - Appreciation is not something you hide. It works best when done publicly. Show your appreciation in a public way - in meetings, in front of team members, and management. The funny thing is that once you get in the habit of doing this many of your team members will increase the activity they need to take to also earn this public appreciation. In short, people love it!
5. Be Relational – When people are asked the question, "Why do you come to work everyday?," they usually respond "to get paid" as their first answer. Then as they think about it further it always comes down to "I feel like I make a difference" as the main answer.
6. A critique or written evaluation - You can show appreciation to a person by evaluating his or her on-the-job performance. Also, in a much less formal way, you can show appreciation by simply sending them a hand-written note saying how much you appreciated a particular duty they performed. A good way to do this is to watch for the little things, for instance when they put forth extra effort to make something a success, send a note thanking them for their work, effort, and commitment to excellence.