Appreciation helps team engagement. Photo credit: Hay Dmitriy

Attention leaders! Did you know appreciation is crucial for consistently high levels of team engagement? So I ask, what are you doing to show your team members that you appreciate them? There’s a ton of information available now about the declining levels of engagement, commitment, and loyalty amongst the U.S. workforce. Feeling undervalued, disconnected, and disrespected are a big part of what’s driving the all-time high levels of disengagement. 

There are, of course, many reasons for low levels of team engagement, and not all are a direct result of their relationships with their peers and leader, but most are. You see, as humans, we have some common needs: Feeling valued, respected, and trusted are in the top five. 

Today, I’m encouraging you to think about what you do consistently to demonstrate your appreciation for the knowledge, skills, ability, accomplishments, and even experiments, of your team members. Right now, remember the last time you spoke words of authentic and specific appreciation to each member of your team… If you can’t recall a recent time for each, you could have a serious problem brewing. 

Appreciation is ONE of the key ingredients in developing and maintaining an engaged team, and it is such a simple thing to do. All it takes is spending enough time with your direct reports to know what they’re working on, how they’re handling their positions, their wins big and small (which are your wins too), and their “appreciation language.”  Oh, it also requires timely, specific, and deliberate action by you. 

Maybe right now you’ve got some frustrations with your team and, the truth is, you aren’t feeling very appreciative of their efforts. Well, look for what you do appreciate and tell them. Remember, success breeds success.  

If you want changes, a collaborative team, high levels of trust and commitment, your team needs you to give them reasons to stay motivated, produce, grow, and keep showing up. There’s not much that damages team engagement more quickly than a “leader” who fails to see what’s going right. 

Now, I hear what some of you are thinking: “It’s hard to really know folks and feel connected when we only see each other in a little box on the screen.” While that’s not untrue, I must respectfully call B.S. This may be hard to hear, leaders, but if you are experiencing the pains of a disengaged, disconnected, less-than-unified team, it’s not remote work or the 2020 pandemic’s fault. It’s yours. 

I’m a big believer in “in-person is always best” for building strong and effective relationships. However, it is not a requirement, and words and actions definitely cross the barriers of the ethernet.  

You might not realize how important your words and actions are to the engagement level, satisfaction, and ultimate success of your team members. I’m here to tell you they are critical.  

Studies have shown employees (and non-employee personnel) are more productive, resilient, committed, collaborative, and unified, when appreciation is modelled as a key ingredient of the culture. Likewise, it is the appreciation of the direct supervisor that carries the most weight and positive influence. 

Did you know? 
81.9% of employees agree that recognition for their contributions improves their engagement. 
71% of employees would be less likely to leave their organization if they were recognized more frequently. 

Appreciation comes in all forms and sizes, but the big, grand, occasional showings are what I’m encouraging today. They’re nice! And if you have the budget, they are wonderful rewards for big accomplishments. However, it is the consistent and sincere appreciation for routine things well done that make the lasting impact and supports a culture that builds strong teams. 

Ready to amplify your team’s engagement through the practice of appreciation? Below are some best practices and tips to assure it doesn’t ring hollow or backfire: 
  1. Understand Individual Preferences:  
  • Get to know your team members as fellow humans, so you understand HOW to best appreciate them. 
  • Ask them directly about their preferred methods of acknowledgment.  
  • Tailor your recognition efforts to suit their preferences, whether it’s public acknowledgment, a private note, or a one-on-one conversation.  
  1. Embrace Authenticity:  
  • Be genuine in your praise and recognition efforts.  
  • Focus on specific behaviors, actions, and outcomes.  
  • Share personal anecdotes or observations to illustrate your appreciation.  
  1. Lead by Example:  
  • Encourage a culture of appreciation where team members recognize each other’s strengths and contributions.  
  • Provide training and resources to help your leadership team develop their appreciation muscles.  
  • Celebrate successes as a team, reinforcing the collective impact of everyone’s efforts. 

So, dear leaders, if supporting team engagement through appreciation has not been top-of-mind for you, I strongly encourage you to look for ways to incorporate it into your leadership habits. You, your team, and your organization will benefit from this simple practice. 

BONUS ALERT! Being in an appreciative mindset is calming, promotes peace, and opens space in your head for other important leadership elements. 

Reach out today to learn more about how our executive coaches can help you and your leadership team develop a culture of appreciation that will help to support the long-term success of your organization. 

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