How We Show Appreciation

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

A couple of weeks ago I was able to hear Dr. Paul White talk about his book that he co-authored with Gary Chapman called The 5 Languages of Appreciation. I had read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages many years ago, but I connected with this book in a way that made me take a long look at how I appreciate the people in my work.

It is easy to believe that we are doing better at showing appreciation toward others than we really are.  There aren’t very many people that are truly successful at showing it in the workplace, and we tend to grade ourselves on a curve.  We can tend to believe that being unappreciated is just part of the experience that makes “work” work.

Dr White shared information to help illustrate just how wide this misconception really is.

Why People Stay

  • In a survey of over 35,000 employees completed by the Chicago Tribune, the number one reason cited by the respondents of why they enjoyed their work was:  “I feel genuinely appreciated by this company” November 2013

The Big Picture

“More than 80% of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, and more than half of those surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss” (BusinessNewsDaily, 2013)

Why People Leave

  • 64% of Americans who leave their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated. (US Dept of Labor)
  • The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.

This survey focuses on how the employees feel they are valued in the workplace.  It does not discuss how they really are valued.  In some cases the problem may be more about the inability to communicate appreciation to valued employees rather than failing to truly appreciate them.  An employee appreciated that doesn’t know it, can’t feel it.  They can’t read minds.

The Gap

“While 51% of managers believe they do a good job of recognizing job well done by their staff, only 17% of the employees in the same groups believe their managers recognize them for doing a good job” (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

According to this survey 34% managers are not aware of their failure to recognize when their team does a good job.  The question is, are you one of those 34%, or do you work with anyone that falls into this category?

Recognition vs. Appreciation

One of the contributing factors to why individuals don’t feel truly appreciated is that leaders don’t always understand the difference between recognition and appreciation.

  • Recognition is largely about results or behavior, Catch them doing something great, and recognize them for it.
  • Appreciation is more personal, it focuses on the employee’s value as a person and an employee as well as their performance.
  • The relational direction of recognition is top-down, coming from leadership.  Appreciation, on the other hand, can be communicated in any direction.

What Language are you speaking?

Dr. White and Dr. Chapman suggest that we may be “missing the mark” because we arent’ speaking the same language as our co-workers.

“Each person has a primary and secondary language of appreciation. Our primary language communicates more deeply to us than the others. Although we will accept appreciation in all five languages, we will not feel truly encouraged unless the message is communicated through our primary language.”

“When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of that language, the intent of the message “misses the mark” and loses the impact the sender had hoped for.”

If you are in a leadership position and feel you need help with understanding a better model of appreciation, I highly recommend that you read this book.  The book discusses the 5 most common languages or channels that people tend to give and receive appreciation. This book has changed the way I will go about learning ways to show appreciation to each individual in my workplace.

Understanding my own language and learning others language is a game changer for me and I believe it can be for you. Appreciation is the secret weapon to bringing people together for a single cause.  When we can appreciate our employees as if they were volunteers, we can change the entire culture of our workplace.

Please share your experience.