By YEOH LIN LIN
There are several definitions of appreciation but most, if not all, point to it being an act of recognising or understanding the value, quality, significance or magnitude of people and of things. In relation to people, it is about who they are, less of what they do.
In the working environment, everyone is on the same level playing field, in the sense that all of us are paid to do our job. The difference is in the how and the attitude. Therein lies the power of appreciation, the game changer!
According to Gallup, employee recognition is a low-cost, high-impact endeavour that helps to improve organisational performance but is underused. More often than not, we fail to see beyond the work at hand.
It’s a morale booster
How often do your employees or co-workers hear words of appreciation? Many work extra hours for no additional money or benefit, and often without the benefit of hearing someone say a simple “thank you”. Despite that, they put in the hours and effort as they feel it is incumbent on them to give their all and make a difference in their jobs.
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Can you imagine then what a great boost to their morale it would be if their colleagues, and their bosses, were to come around and say, “We appreciate your effort.” And in appropriate situations, the boss could even reward the particular employee with some hours off.
Let us, therefore, not stinge on building someone up, or being that catalyst to add a spring in someone’s step!
It’s a strong motivator
When we appreciate our colleagues, it creates an environment where everyone wants to work and continue to make a positive difference in the company. When we express our appreciation towards others, we are basically saying: “I notice your effort. You are making a difference. I appreciate you.” It could also serve as a motivator to others in the team, spurring them on to give their best.
For those in leadership position, we seldom realise the so-called positive impact of our words or acts of appreciation to our subordinates. Subordinates are inclined to feel “on top of the world” when their team leaders appreciate them and take them out for a meal to show their appreciation. These actions have long-term benefits – as we sit down together for a meal and get to know each other better, and a healthy rapport is developed.
According to a Gallup study, around 50% of employees leave the organisation to get away from their bosses. Let those in leadership position take heed, and not be the cause of high employee turnover!
It’s for everyone
In the office, gestures of appreciation need not be top-down only; it could be bottom-up, and lateral.
When our bosses have done something good for the welfare of the staff, we could thank them for their action. Yes, the boss is usually expected to care for the welfare of the employees but it is a choice he/she has. He/She chose to exercise good judgment for the staff. Thank him/her.
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Subordinates may think it is out of their place to do so, but think about it, your boss is just as human as you. The same goes with your peers and subordinates. And yes, our family.
It is all within our capacity to make another person feel good. A bad day could turn into an awesome one when a kind word is said. Let’s not wait until the person or thing is taken away from us. Let’s just do it… now!
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Bringing things into perspective
Appreciation can make a day, even change a life, for someone. Our willingness to put it into action is all that is required. Give this a thought. Think of someone today – someone at work, in your family, your friends, your community – and do something to let him/her know that you appreciate him/her.
Appreciation 20 years late… better than never
Years ago when I was about five months pregnant with my second child, I attended a job interview. I finally met the chief executive officer (CEO), and was subsequently hired.
I joined the organisation when I was seven months into my pregnancy. After working for close to two months, I went on two months’ paid maternity leave. All this was agreed on with the CEO, even though he knew that it would cost his organisation in terms of medical expenses and paid time-off.
Over the years after leaving the organisation and as I grew and advanced in my career, there had been times I wanted to contact the CEO and thank him for what he has done for me.
The decision he made was unconventional. It helped shape the way I think and decide when I became a hiring manager later in my career. The CEO’s action taught me to look beyond the here and now, to look at the sum total of the talent and capability of the candidate for the longer term.
As I mulled on the topic of a speaking engagement*, I decided to give him a call. He was surprised, nonetheless as it was, after all, some 20 years ago! I thanked him for giving me the opportunity and for helping to shape my “hiring” thinking. Since then, I had “paid it forward” a couple of times.
The first step is always the hardest as you cannot envision the response of the person. Put that aside. Just do it! (as Nike says). The response is secondary. Don’t hesitate to take a moment out of your day to let someone know you appreciate him/her. Words of encouragement can make a bigger impact than you can imagine.
“Appreciation is one of the most powerful, yet overlooked, aspects of successfully motivating and empowering people and teams.” – MAPSA
We don’t do it enough, if we do it at all.
Note: My appreciation to the Malaysian Association of Professional Secretaries and Administrators (MAPSA), ASLI and The National Council of Women’s Organisation Malaysia for inviting me to speak at the 2016 MAPSA Conference. It was a soul-searching and eye-opening opportunity for me. I am honoured!