With Thanksgiving all but upon us, our team at Rotate has been reflecting on how we can be thankful and appreciative of our co-workers and team members not just this week, but throughout the year. We all know (or can at least imagine) how personally motivating it is to work on a team where your successes are recognized and your finished projects celebrated. Our hope is that you can build an appreciation plan into your regular work cadence and create a team that feels valued and motivated to succeed.
We are wired differently. It doesn’t take much observation to notice that no two people are exactly alike. We all have a unique lens through which we perceive the world and the actions of others. Have you heard of Gary Chapman’s 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace? Chapman posits that each person has a primary way that they feel appreciated by others. Everyone can feel appreciated when someone extends their acknowledgment in ANY of these five ways or “languages”, but everyone has a primary way they feel loved/appreciated. The primary “language of appreciation” that each person “speaks/hears”, falls into one of five categories: Words of Affirmation (affirming others with written or spoken words), Quality Time (giving undivided attention), Acts of Service (pitching in to help get things done), Tangible Gifts (offering non-monetary gifts) and Physical Touch (not appropriate for the workplace).
We know that the 5 Languages can seem a little cheesy, but it’s very eye-opening if you speak to someone who “speaks” a different “ language” from you. The concept of different Languages of Appreciation applies to the way you celebrate and motivate people in the workplace. On our team here at Rotate, we have at least two people that are Words of Affirmation and another that is Quality Time. What speaks volumes to one worker can actually be a little painful for another. Each example below is a valid way to show appreciation in the workplace, but some will resonate deeply with you whereas, others won’t have a significant personal draw. This all depends on your primary language.
Your boss directly acknowledges you during an all-hands meeting in front of your peers. Words of Affirmation
You receive a personal email from a peer that offers to take a report off your plate next week because they know you have a lot going on right now. Acts of Service
Your boss looks you in the eye, notes something specific that you accomplished, and tells you that you did a great job. Quality Time
You arrive at your desk in the morning to find your favorite cup of joe on your desk with the words “great job” written on the lid. Tangible Gifts
Know your team: Consider asking your team to share the way they feel the most appreciated at work. Share the examples above to give a full picture of all the ways people can feel appreciated. Have your team take the 5 Love Languages test for free and share the results.
Create a culture of appreciation: Set a regular moment within your workday or work-week where you acknowledge someone on your team or at your workplace. If you’re in a position of leadership, ask everyone you manage to do the same.
Cast your net wide: It can be difficult to determine how each person will receive (or “hear”) the recognition you give them. Be sure to share appreciation in a number of different ways. Brainstorm with your team, and beyond, for ways to celebrate successes and hard work, done well. Each company has a unique culture and your people are in the best position to come up with great ideas.
Reconsider your benchmarks for appreciation: I’ve worked for companies that only celebrate at the end of the year. They pull huge reports and run numbers every possible way and then print out a certificate (or order a plaque) for each team or member that had the best results. This can be an important way to honor a job well done, but it typically only celebrates a small segment of the team for a job well done. It doesn’t appreciate or acknowledge the hard work of the MANY that it took to get there. The year-end celebration also often takes place months after the hard work is completed.
Instead, set some achievable milestones along the way. Don’t make them so hard to reach that no one ever has a chance to celebrate a victory or be recognized as successful in a week-to-week or month-to-month timeframe. In a Globoforce research study, they found that 89% of people were motivated by being told what they were doing right rather than what they were doing wrong. 80% of people expected positive recognition to be given near the time of the activity. So encourage people along the way and express gratitude for the work that IS done, without always looking for the finale.