The Art of Appreciation

By Andy Bailey, an EO Nashville member and president of Petra Coach

When it comes to running a successful business, I’ve learned that giving appreciation is an art form. While flexing the appreciation muscle can be a daunting task, it’s absolutely needed to keep my team—and my business—moving forward. In my coaching firm, I’ve discovered the value of consistently showing my staff the appreciation they both expect and deserve. Here are three things I learned along the way.

I Put the “I” in Team

If I want my employees to make the most of their time and adopt an appreciative culture at work, I need to lead by example. Appreciation starts at the very top, and I have adopted several strategies to continuously show my appreciation to my staff. First, I give appreciation in meaningful ways, which is not a vague, “Hey, great job today,” email. Instead, I talk to my staff face to face, establish eye contact and specifically state the action or actions they’ve completed.

“I appreciate you for making that extra call to Mr. Smith to get the meeting setup. A lot of people would have stopped calling after the first attempt was unsuccessful, but you made that one extra call and it paid off big time.” Then, I follow up with how it impacts the business and, more specifically, me as a business owner. “Because of that extra call and meeting, we are now able to meet our targets for the quarter, and with us meeting our targets, I can now get away this weekend with my kids.” I’ve seen an increase in productivity at work because all of my employees know that their work will be recognized and, eventually, rewarded by top management.

The Trickle-Down Effect

Because I continuously show my staff the importance of appreciation through my actions, it became easier for me to introduce initiatives that created an appreciative culture, one that acknowledged success. One initiative I promote to enhance appreciation is changing the way I correct team members for missteps. I adhere to the advice of beginning with the positives, and then expressing the issue. However, where I disagree with the tactic is the dreaded use of the word, “but.”

For instance, “Sam, you’re always great about communicating with your client, but….” When that dreaded three-letter word is said, it diminishes the initial compliment. To ensure that “Sam” knows I see him as a valuable contributor to the organization, but that there are areas for improvement, I replace “but” with “and.” This allows Sam to keep the positive in mind and not feel that his accomplishments are being overshadowed by his shortcomings.

“Sam, you’re always great about communicating with your client, and I would like for you to be more aware of informing them of upcoming events or conferences being managed by our organization.” This way “Sam” keeps the positive while also being aware of areas for improvement.

The “group hug” is another initiative I teach my staff and clients. Don’t worry, this type of hug won’t provoke a human resources violation! In a “group hug,” an appreciation exchange occurs, where each member comes prepared to share specific appreciation with peers. This exercise builds morale and motivates team members to work toward receiving the notes that I’m sure will be treasured.

An Appreciation Revolution with Results

One of my clients, Legal Monkeys, has built an open and collaborative environment as a result of appreciation exchanges. Legal Monkeys adopted and then adapted the “group hug” to become part of their culture. We began working with the team at Legal Monkeys nearly two years ago, and right from the beginning we emphasized the importance of true appreciation with the exercise of the group hug. It stuck in a way that we never dreamed. Corey Cormier, CEO of Legal Monkeys, was so excited about the results of the appreciation exchanges that he created a video recommending more organizations embrace its benefits!

The art of appreciation is a key factor in the success of any business. What are you doing in your business to ensure that your employees are feeling appreciated?

Categories: Best Practices Company Culture LEADERSHIP PEOPLE/STAFF


One Response to “ The Art of Appreciation ”

  1. Sachin on

    Glad to read this article. Really interesting and worth practising it immediately. I am eager to feel the results out of it.


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