Here at the end of another year, my family and I will express and literally record statements of love and appreciation for each other in what has become an annual tradition. This simple exercise compiles what we appreciate about and wish for each other in the coming year—something started nearly ten years ago in order to strengthen the bonds of a blended family.
I now see this act of acknowledging in public (at least within the immediate family) our feelings for each other has helped normalize the expression of appreciation. While this is extremely important in families, I contend there should be a lot more appreciation expressed in the workplace because this will lead to greater engagement.
Though many workplaces today are more open to encourage increased interaction and engagement, this alteration of the environment is not nearly enough.
Fact is most of us are motivated and engaged only when we feel appreciated in a way that is both accurate and personal. And simply throwing a holiday party where the boss says some words of overall appreciation—while important—is not nearly enough.
If every supervisor, manager, director and senior executive were to vocalize what they honestly and personally appreciate about each of those who report to them, I suspect this would increase overall productivity and sustainable engagement.
Perhaps you’re thinking that because you don’t get this kind of appreciation from your own supervisor, you shouldn’t offer it to others. This type of thinking only contributes to why so many people feel depleted and unmotivated at work.
Sharing appreciation for another person doesn’t cost you anything. What it demonstrates is your awareness of the value another person provides and your own vulnerability, which enables greater emotional connection.
Often times the deciding factor for why people stay on a job or look elsewhere has to do with whether they feel an emotional connection with leaders. Those who are able to show vulnerability demonstrate honesty, openness and authentic leadership. Employees then feel more connected and are less likely to move on, even for more money or benefits.
No matter your position in the organization, expressing gratitude for others will elevate your aptitude for leadership in their eyes. You will distinguish yourself from others and likely build an engaged group of followers.
If your organization is looking for the simplest, cheapest and best way to increase engagement, look no further than the expression of honest and personal appreciation. And while doing this at the end of annual performance reviews is valuable, it can be much more meaningful if it is done more frequently and when it is unexpected.
Now that my kids are all teenagers, their expressions of appreciation for each other has moved from the simple and often funny to more heartfelt and moving. What I appreciate most is that they don’t always wait until the end of the year to express these feelings.