Article by Jim Jensen
Perhaps it’s because my wife and I just spent a wonderful Christmas visiting our daughter and her husband. Or perhaps it’s because I always find myself in a state of gratitude during the holiday season. Regardless of the motivation, as we begin a new year, I thought this might be an opportune time to share a post on the power appreciation.
Have you ever considered the connection between appreciation, interpersonal culture, and results? I have, and so have many researchers over the years.
From the Harvard Business Review article, “Give Your Team More-Effective Positive Feedback” by Christine Porath
Highlighting an employee’s strengths can help generate a sense of accomplishment and motivation. A Gallup survey found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses.
IBM’s WorkTrends survey of over 19,000 workers in 26 countries, across industries and thousands of organizations, revealed that the engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher than the engagement level of those who do not. The same survey showed that employees who receive recognition are also far less likely to quit. Recognition has been shown to increase happiness at work in general and is tied to cultural and business results...
Offering positive feedback can generate wins for managers, too. High performers offer more positive feedback to peers; in fact, high-performing teams share nearly six times more positive feedback than average teams. Meanwhile, low-performing teams share nearly twice as much negative feedback than average teams.
Here’s something to think about and consider doing in your role as a leader. It’s something anyone in any position can do. And it’s free.
In my work with leaders and teams, I will often explore a model for giving constructive feedback and then create “formal” opportunities to practice using it. Constructive feedback can include the challenging kind aimed at areas for growth and development, and it can include sharing perceptions of what people do well, contributions that are appreciated by others.
While it’s true that challenging feedback can be incredibly valuable, in my experience the most powerful feedback, feedback that has an enduring impact, is around those behaviors and attributes that people appreciate.
Based on many hundreds of employee interviews, where leaders and coworkers share with me their perceptions of their working relationships, people quite often experience appreciation for things their coworkers say or do. Sometimes people are aware of their feelings of appreciation in the moment, but often it goes unnoticed. Occasionally these feelings of appreciation get shared, in the form of a flat-out statement or a sincere “Thank you. I appreciate that.” More often than not though, these perceptions and feelings simply don’t get shared. At least that is my perception, and that’s why I create formal opportunities.
The thing is, you don’t have to wait for a formal opportunity or a training & development offsite to tap into the power of appreciation. If you find yourself feeling grateful that someone has said or done something that helped you do your job better, first pay attention to the fact that you’re appreciating it. Secondly, tell them! Tell them in front of others or one on one, but tell them. Many people in leadership roles make the faulty assumption that people just know when their efforts are appreciated.
If you are not real practiced at expressing appreciation, and you’re afraid it might come out awkwardly, that’s okay. If it is sincere, they’ll know it. Conversely, if it is insincere, they’ll know that too. Best to be sincere.
Try it as you go about your work day. See what kind of impact it has on people’s energy. See what kind of impact it has on yours. See what kind of impact it has on your interpersonal culture and engagement. My guess is that you’ll find it was well worth the effort.
I hope you found this helpful.
Click here to read the full HBR article: Give Your Team More-Effective Positive Feedback” by Christine Porath
Primarily serving Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, we’ve worked with companies worldwide as leadership team development, and corporate team building facilitators.
Jim Jensen, MA LPC is the Principal and Founder of Dynamic Teams LLC, specializing in helping leaders of companies build healthy culture through dynamic leadership teams.