Deep down, that is what we all want from the people in our lives, including our co-workers. I was recently asked what tools I use to motivate people. I believe that the two most powerful tools are appreciation and gratitude. I know they are the best way to motivate me and I have seen how well they work to motivate others.
When to appreciate
It is very easy to get tied up in the everyday “must dos.” We work diligently, often feverishly, to manage our own “to dos.” When our team does big things, it is right in front of us to appreciate the accomplishment. For example, when a big obstacle has been overcome, or a high-pressure deadline has been successfully met, or when we have completed a project under budget, we know to say “well done” and “great job.” But there are ever present things that we can appreciate about our co-workers and team.
Think about Frank who gives you consistent, strong performance. Think about Juanita who is always ready to step in and fill the void when something needs done at the last minute, or when her co-worker gets overloaded. Think about Isaiah who always has an encouraging word for others. Think about the team that always comes through, always shores each other up. These kinds of things that really make a difference in the workplace can get taken for granted because they are ever present. As a leader, it is up to you to show continued appreciation for the big achievements as well as the ongoing acts of your employees.
How to appreciate
Appreciation has the most power when it is sincere. It goes a long way with a person when you thank them in a heartfelt way for what they do. Think about how you react when someone appreciates your expertise, your attitude, your willingness, your extra effort. It feels good. It is the same for everyone.
When you want to offer more than words, you can amplify your appreciation by individualizing it. That comes down to knowing your employees. What rings their bell? For some, it will be doing something that improves their work space, like giving them a plant or something fun to have around. For others, it will be public acknowledgement, so a nice certificate or token they can display. Some people feel most appreciated when you give them the opportunity to learn and grow (think seminar or workshop) or when you give them time off to do charitable work. And, while money isn’t the motivator for most people, it is for some, in which case, a small gift card works wonders.
Just the fact that you know the special thing that motivates each person is in itself a form of appreciation. Because then they know that you value them. And that brings us back to what we are taught as children, to appreciate and respect others.
Motivating employees is one aspect of leadership that we include in our training and coaching programs. Let us know how we can support your managers and teams.