Creating a Culture of Appreciation

Monday August 1, 2016 comments

There are thousands of books with thousands of ideas about how to appreciate, recognize, or honor people in your organization. So many good ideas. The problem with them is that they are ideas that worked in some other organization that took the time to figure out what worked for them. Though imitation may be the highest form of flattery, it’s not a recipe for creating the best solution for your workplace.

One of the top reward or motivation factors for employees is full appreciation. It’s a relatively free or inexpensive solution to the issue of employee engagement. One of the top complaints employees have about their bosses is that those bosses don’t fully appreciate the good their employees do. Fixing this is a relatively easy way to build a positive, collaborative relationship between management and employees.

All of the ideas, all of the various ways of providing recognition, all of the fun you think you can create by following some other organizations’ great ideas – none of it will amount to much more than insincere platitudes and something to throw money at unless you create a culture of appreciation.

Following are 7 of the best ways to do so:

  1. Be Honest. If you haven’t been appreciative, own that. If you have but it might not have been effective, own that. If it’s been fun but it’s time to freshen it up some, own that. The best forms of appreciation are those that the recipient believes are sincere. Humility will grease the skids.
  2. Listen. You may have great ideas. Those may work for you. Find out what your team wants. Engage them in the process of building a culture of appreciation. Nothing is less effective than a management-designed incentive that isn’t an incentive to those it’s supposed to incentivize.
  3. Think Peer-to-Peer. You may be great at appreciating those around you. But if those around you aren’t great at appreciating those around them, appreciation won’t be part of your culture. Create ways for peers to recognize each other. Fund small tokens of appreciation peers can give one another like a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop. Talk it up. Make it fun. Appreciation must be more than just top down.
  4. Think “Residual Value.” We all forget too easily. Cash is fun to receive and everyone likes having more, but it can be quickly forgotten among all the things people need cash for. Like bills. You can give an equal value with longer lasting impact by giving a gift that lasts, that creates a memory.
  5. Think “Trophy Value.” Provide a meaningful “trophy” to those who master of a process, or who make a significant contribution to a strategic goal. The “trophy” is a constant reminder of the achievement and the self-actualization derived from it. By “trophy,” I don’t mean a shiny thing that sits on a shelf in a closet, I mean something useful on the job. Every time they use it, they remember why.
  6. Think PR. There are a lot of things you can put your logo on. Some may get noticed and help enhance your marketing and employment brand – jackets, ball caps, shirts. Buzz is good. Buzz from happy, appreciated employees is better.
  7. Think Network. Drive your recognition dollars back to your network – Your customers, your vendors, your friends. Why not send the dollars you spend on appreciation back to another group of people you want to appreciate? Why not create and even stronger bond between them and you?

After a while, the appreciation creates a culture that is more focused on gratitude, and less focused on complaining, critiquing, or passive aggressive behaviors. You want that. You want your people engaged in the right things.

So here’s a picture of how it works… you appreciate employees; they appreciate you. You appreciate customers; they appreciate you. You appreciate vendors; they appreciate you. You appreciate friends in your network; they appreciate you. Employees appreciate each other; they appreciate you. Get the picture?!


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