Sunday, 10 April 2016 12:17

Underappreciated at Work

Feeling under or unappreciated is a major epidemic in work places today, regardless if it's in a corporate setting, government office, healthcare or community group, yet staff who feel appreciated consistently deliver better results. What may seem surprising is that even in organisations with high staff satisfaction, the feeling on not being appreciated can still be high. Why? It relates to the level at which individual staff members feel they are connected to the overall objectives.

Appreciation works best when it's local, one-on-one or handled in small groups and it's the little things that matter most. But does this mean appreciation is limited then only to small companies or groups? Certainly not. Taking five minutes to explain to someone how a change they make could contribute to the overall objectives is sometimes all it takes.

Staff report feeling underappreciated far too frequently. In recent polls, 40% of British staff said so, 38% of US staff blamed their lack of engagement on being underappreciated and globally, that figure soars to a frightening 80% in some countries.

No matter how routine a job is, there are opportunities to show the person performing it that they are appreciated. The ideal appreciation is received from happy customers, but there is a personal, internal driven need in us to belong to something bigger than ourselves, and when we work towards that it creates an expectation of having our efforts appreciated within the group too. This is why knowing their part in the big scheme of things is essential.

Managers View
Here are some things that great bosses do to show appreciation to their staff:
  • remember their names (you'd be horrified by how many times we come across managers who don't know their staff's names)
  • make sure that every staff member understands, in detail, their part in making the overall objectives happen
  • find a reason to thank each person for the job they do, not programmatically but as a habit so that everyone gets recognised from time to time
  • write 'thank you' notes and leave them on people's desks or wherever they will see them; simple, quick and heartfelt works wonders
  • ask your staff members opinions and let them follow up on their ideas
  • make sure your staff are in the right roles so they can succeed; otherwise praise can be taken cynically
  • point out something special they did and let them know it was appreciated
  • work collaboratively with your staff and allow them to contribute
  • share your goals and passions with them and ask them to share theirs
  • find out what each indivudal likes in terms of recognition to show you are genuine and that you care about them feeling appreciated
Appreciating staff can be the simplest and most effective method of keeping morale high and staff engaged. If you join a team that has been under appreciated for some time you will have your work cut out to bring them round, but they will break through. Start as you mean to continue and never stop.

Sharing ideas, goals and passions with staff helps you connect personally. The topic should be business related, but the sharing should be personal. Staff will respond and even the most jaded teams can come around. Make sure you don't stop appreciating them when they do come around too.

Make recognising your staff an honest, open, daily event as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning. It will pay great dividends in engagement and performance.

Staff View
If staff members feel they are unappreciated or underappreciated they need to ask some hard questions of themselves because their performance will deteriorate and their reputations may go down shortly afterwards. Key questions and issues for staff are:
  • being open with the boss and saying you don't feel appreciated can open your eyes to your boss' attitude; you may get nonchalance, surprise, regret or even defensiveness
  • ask yourself if the boss really cares; are you seeing lip service, compliance, begrudging recognition or do you see vibrant, caring, relevant and uplifting recognition
  • don't equate recognition with pay, you should be treated with respect at whatever pay grade you're on and recognition can never always be about money or pay increases
  • if you find yourself with a boss who does not want to, or cannot bring themsleves to recognise - move to another group or even another organisation - you're worth more
  • make sure your boss knows the way you like to be recognised and don't be shy asking for it
Staff respond to recognition when it's spontaneous, relevant to what is happening at the time, genuine and freely given. If recognition is always followed by a special request it soon loses its' meaning. It is always a stand-alone activity. Staff members cannot make a boss appreciate them, but they can share their thoughts and ask the boss to consider alternative approaches.

For a FREE and confidential coaching session if you are a manager or a staff member who is concerned about appreciating staff more effectively:

Published in Fundamental Management