Without a doubt, the success of a team rises or falls on the people who make up that team. Of course, there are other factors which can affect a team’s success; lack of resources, understaffing and a stretched budget to name a few. I’ve seen teams pull together in incredibly tough circumstances and hit goals or targets that seemed almost impossible. I’ve also seen teams who are over staffed and very well resourced, yet they struggle to achieve even the most basic targets that their roles demand.

In the Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Dr Paul White found that 79% of employees who quit their job, cite lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. Why is it then, that so many managers and leaders fail to show meaningful appreciation to their teams? Well, in my experience, most are trying to show appreciation in one way or another, but it is often completely ineffective. A failure to understand how to appreciate people well can be frustrating for the leader and soul destroying for the team members.

Here are four tips to help make sure your appreciation hits the mark…

  • Know the individual

Some people respond well to a small gift, but others just want to be told they’re doing an amazing job. I know people who feel on top of the world when their boss sets aside a few minutes to have a coffee with them and show an interest in their life. It won’t be the same for everyone, but an effective leader will take time to learn what makes their individual team members feel valued.

  • Mass appreciation has limited effect

Saying well done to your whole team is great, and we should do it, but it doesn’t acknowledge the achievements or contributions the individuals have made. In some cases, where there are one or two lazy team members, it can actually lead to resentment from their high performing co-workers. Why should lazy employees be rewarded in the same way as hard-working ones? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a gesture of mass appreciation (like a staff Christmas party) will make the whole team feel valued.

  • The law of diminishing returns

What works today will be less effective tomorrow. For example, if you give your team members a £100 gift card at the end of the year to say thank you, it’s likely to be well received the first year. If you do it again the next year, they’ll be appreciative but not as much as the year before. By the third year they’re expecting that £100 gift card and it’s now considered an entitlement rather than a bonus. Make sure you mix things up so appreciation remains unpredictable and comes as an unexpected surprise rather than a scheduled entitlement.

  • Give appreciation, not just recognition

Recognition is given for a job well done. What about appreciating someone for who they are, not just what they do? This is much less common but so much more powerful. It might sound like this; I so appreciate the enthusiasm and life you bring to the team. We really value your energy, and the team would be poorer without you. Comments like that don’t just make people feel appreciated, they buy loyalty like you wouldn’t believe.

Consultant Trainer

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