It’s Not Enough to Thank Employees – You Must Show Appreciation, Too

It’s no surprise to regular readers that my favorite topic of conversation on this blog is how we can all do a better job of sharing our appreciation for each other’s efforts at work and, more importantly, why it’s important we do so.

Of course there are right ways and wrong ways of doing this in terms of the practical act of telling someone “thank you.” But we must also never forget there’s more to recognizing others.

“Corner Office” column in The New York Times served as a reminder in which Avinoam Nowogrodski, chief executive of Clarizen, discussed his management style. Throughout his interview, these three foundational methods of employee recognition are quite clear:

1. Humbly Ask

Employees are smart. If not, why did we hire them?

When we as leaders set aside our own conceptions of the “right answer” to ask for feedback and ideas from everyone, we get a much richer set of possibilities to pursue from, critically, the people closest to the problem, the customer, or the potential outcome.

2. Closely Listen

Listening, truly listening, to others is often the greatest sign of appreciation and recognition we can give.

A dismissive attitude or even one of “I’m in a rush, can you hurry this up?” communicates loudly the employee’s ideas aren’t worthy of your time or attention.

Attentive, thoughtful listening, especially to proactive ideas from employees, communicates the value of that employee and their insight to you and the organization.

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3. Deeply Respect

Asking and listening are themselves forms of respect, but there are countless opportunities throughout the day to express your respect for your colleagues and subordinates.

Offering to pitch in and help on a project (even if it means “lowering” yourself beneath your own job requirements), praising someone’s ideas ahead of your own, and giving credit generously to others are just a few.

What other ways can we show appreciation and recognition to our colleagues, peers and subordinates? What’s the most powerful form of recognition for you?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.

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