The Power of Appreciation


Most of us like being considered a valuable part of a worthy cause. It’s the odd person who doesn’t like praise, appreciation, or recognition for good, hard work. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure such a person exists in the United States — we all appreciate being appreciated.

So, it’s pretty safe to assume that most people think about praise and appreciation on a touchy-feely level. After all, it really does feel good to hear your boss, peer, or some other person tell you that you’re doing a good job. But the good feelings produce more than just a short term sense of happiness and self-worth. Those feelings spark our desire to hear it again. That desire, in turn, excites us to want to perform the action that was just recognized again, and again, and again. Philosopher and psychologist William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

89% Positive Feedback is Biggest Motivator

So why not give our employees what they are craving?

Ok, maybe you’re just not that kind of leader. You believe that your employees should be happy to have jobs, and after all, you do pay them for their efforts. That should be enough. Ok, I’m with you…up to a point. Workers should be motivated by pay and all research shows that money motivates. It’s a fact.

But what if there was a good business case for showing appreciation?

It turns out there is. Numerous surveys and studies conducted by Gallup, CEB Corporate Leadership Board, and others, have proven that when people are shown appreciation and recognized for their efforts, they put out more discretionary effort. To see the connection, check out the two charts below.

Emotion Tied to Discretionary Effort

Praise Improves Performance

People tend to be more engaged and work harder when they are emotionally tied to their work. And they perform at a higher level when given praise. These results should provide incentive for those hard-nosed, number-crunching bosses to consider the softer side of management as an effective tool to achieve bottom line gains.

Whether you like to dole out praise as encouragement for a job well done, or you’re a bit more miserly in your recognition attempts, there is no disputing the tangible results of a good old fashioned “thank you”.

Appreciation + Recognition = Greater Productivity

Oh, and by the way, appreciation is a zero cost strategic initiative. Win-win!

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Jimmy Glenos is a Work/Life Performance Coach. He helps people achieve their biggest dreams, reach their highest energy, and attain total work/life fulfillment. With over 30 years of hospitality and health care experience, Jimmy brings deep knowledge and insight to help people lead at work and succeed in life.

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