Building A More Appreciative Workplace (Appreciation)

“Three billion people on the face of the earth go to bed hungry every night, but four billion people go to bed every night hungry for a simple word of encouragement and recognition.” – Cavett Robert

Is your workplace as appreciative as it could be? This article features three steps to a more appreciative workplace and explores why that matters.

Why Bother With Appreciation?

When encouragement flows freely, relationships flourish. Appreciation is the fuel that grows people and organizations in value and worth. It strengthens relationships, sustains organizations, and maintains the loyalty of employees and clients alike.

Towers Watson (a major human resource consultancy) recently found that the single highest driver of engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. If you’re in a leadership role, encouraging others is a very strong way to express your interest in others.

Martin Shain, a researcher in workplace wellness, found that one of the most important indicators of happiness in the workplace is whether employees feel they have a friend at work. As a colleague in the workplace, sharing appreciation is a simple way to express your care and concern.

In terms of productivity and performance, researcher, Michael Losada discovered that the highest performing teams demonstrate a 6 to 1 ratio of positive to negative comments. Actively sharing recognition with others is a significant way to increase the positivity and productivity in your team.

You may think there is already enough appreciation flowing through the workplace, but in a recent survey of 2300 North American employees, 66% said they would like to receive more appreciation on the job. Are any of them in your workplace?

If you want to become a more appreciative force in your workplace, take these three steps.

1. Check Your Mindset

Whether you focus on good news or bad, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for.

If you tune to the black cloud/ bad news channel, expecting things to head sideways at every turn, you’ll encounter no shortage of problems, disasters and disappointments. I’m guessing you don’t intentionally want to promote careless comments, missed deadlines, or slapdash service.

If, on the other hand, you tune to the blue sky/good news channel, anticipating that all will be well, you’re more likely to notice successes, accomplishments, and victories. And, you’ll end up drawing attention to outstanding relationships, awesome outcomes, and stellar service.

Actively target your attention to the up-side. ‘Catch’ others succeeding, shine a spotlight in that direction, and generate more of what you value.

2. Watch For Signposts

Cues that signal an opportunity to encourage others are everywhere.

Scout positive developments. A colleague meets a milestone or finishes a project. Others go out of their way for you. Someone takes a risk, overcomes a fear, or makes a positive change.

Stay alert for signs of discouragement. A normally happy outgoing person withdraws. A colleague experiences a disappointment. An individual seems reluctant to take on a new responsibility, or fails to master something new.

All of these situations are good reasons to do what you can to lift another’s spirits.

3. Avoid These Pitfalls

If encouragement has never been ‘your thing’, or you’re not very comfortable with it, here are a few ways to be more successful in your efforts.

Tailor the recognition to the recipient. Introverts do not enjoy being center stage. Extroverts thrive on it. Recognizing different people in the same way does not guarantee a positive result. If in doubt about how best to appreciate someone, watch for clues as to how that person extends appreciation to others or ask the person directly what they would prefer.

Be specific. Avoid milk-toast generalizations like: good job, nice work, or way to go. Describe in detail what you have noticed. Say why it mattered to you and the organization.

Aim for creativity and uniqueness. Don’t settle for the same old, same old predictability. Vary the way you recognize others from time to time and year to year. Repeating the same form of reward loses its impact over time. Even small changes bring a breath of fresh air.

Think beyond trinkets and comments. Encouragement does not always involve a tangible external reward. Tap into people’’s intrinsic motivation. We are naturally motivated by: Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy. Connect what’s being asked of people to the larger purpose and the difference that their work makes to others. Offer people opportunities to improve their skills and grow in areas that matter to them. As much as possible, let people decide how or in what order they tackle the work.

Whatever you do when it comes to appreciation, move beyond thinking to action. In the words of Ken Blanchard, “Good thoughts not delivered mean squat!”

© Patricia Katz, MCE CHRP HoF, is a Canadian speaker and author who works with organizational leaders to ease the load and fuel the spirit. This best selling author of 5 books shares her wisdom weekly with thousands of readers of her e-zine, Pause. Sign up for Pause, and learn more about easing your load at Contact Pat for programs and publications at or 877-728-5289