The Power of Appreciation

“Why should I thank them?  It’s their job.”

Many years ago I heard a supervisor say those words about her staff and to this day it still makes me cringe.  This person assumed that merely paying people for their work was thanks enough.  After all, to her mind it was not as if they rescued someone from a burning building or something else extraordinary!

I hope that you agree with me that people deserve to be appreciated beyond financial compensation.  Gratitude is not only reserved for big things that happen, but the little daily actions that contribute to workplace success.  In fact, this is an argument that appreciation for small actions has an out-sized effect.  According to the O.C. Tanner Global Culture Report, an employee’s satisfaction with their job is directly related to the amount of positive micro-experiences they have.

What are micro-experiences?  They are the tiny things that happen every day that together shape our overall impression of a workplace.  For example, do your colleagues say good morning every day; is the work evenly shared; is there laughter and fun in the workplace;  and does the team stick up for its members in a crisis.  Positive micro-experiences connect to a sense of purpose, success, and well-being, while negative ones do the opposite.

To my mind the most powerful micro-experiences come from genuine appreciation.  The most basic form of which is the simple, “thank you.”  Those two words have done more to improve employee morale and team connection than any other reward system or program.  I’ll ask you this question: How often do you thank your colleagues for helping out, completing tasks, or simply listening to your concerns? 

On my Library Management Team we started a practice to open every meeting with a round of appreciation.  Each team member offers gratitude to another team member for something specific they have done.  They can even offer appreciation to staff from that person’s division.  Opening the meeting this way creates a subtle but significant impact on the quality of the meeting.  It gets everyone into a team mode and demonstrates how simple appreciation quickly lifts the mood.

To that end, I challenge you all to make appreciation for your colleagues a more deliberate part of your day.  One habit is to thank at least five people every day for something specific they did at work.  Write kudos to them for an extra surprise.  Then watch how the power of appreciation creates an amazing work experience.  Thank you all for reading these thoughts!  It is appreciated.

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