When was the last time you congratulated someone on a job well done? Or perhaps dropped a thank you note in the mail? Or tipped someone generously for good service? Probably not as often as you think. If you are criticizing more than complimenting, you are probably overlooking one of the most effective tools for improving worker performance, the power of appreciation.
As humans we all like to believe our work is important and we're doing a good job. It is a natural part of our self-esteem. At work, we take a lot of criticism particularly in those companies where micromanagement is the norm. We may become callous as a result, and if done too often, it can break any worker's spirit. If an employee believes he/she is in a no-win situation, they tend to give up and their work degenerates, both in terms of quantity and quality. In other words, they have been emotionally whipped into submission and, in turn, put forth minimal effort. This occurs any time someone feels they are being taken for granted.
Every now and then it is important to express a token of appreciation whether it is from a manager to an employee, or worker-to-worker. People naturally tend to respond positively when they believe their efforts are noticed. As humans we crave gratification; we want to know our efforts are appreciated and contribute to the overall good of the business. It helps us realize we are doing a good job as opposed to a bad one. You cannot develop a pride in workmanship if you are not sure you are doing a good job. Both criticisms AND compliments are necessary to give workers a sense of direction.
I'm not one who supports "Employee of the Month" programs as I have seen them disrupt the harmony of a company's teamwork. However, it is important to recognize excellent work, be it in the form of a bonus, a certificate, a lunch or possibly a beer afterwards, or nothing more than a sincere "thank you." The token should be a genuine sign of appreciation and not just a knee-jerk reaction lacking sincerity, otherwise it loses its credibility and is dismissed by the worker in question. In other words, don't overplay it, and make it personal. Look the person in the eye, don't give a flimsy handshake, and speak from the heart, not from a script.
In these troubling economic times where people are unsure of their future, where there seems to be a cloud of doubt everywhere, the power of appreciation can work wonders. I am certainly not suggesting you try to make people love you, as I have seen that backfire as well, but to just be fair with people and let them know what they are doing right as well as they are doing wrong. People tend to respond better when they know they are being treated fairly and not abused.
I am reminded of the old expression, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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