Management Through Appreciation and Recognition
August 24, 2016
My mother used to quote the old English proverb, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
I have worked in a number of companies, small and large for-profits and not-for-profits. In some of those institutions, I have watched co-workers slowly change from excited and willing collaborators to pessimistic, resentful people who spend more time complaining about their job than performing their required tasks.
Let’s go back to that old English proverb – when leaders manage those under them only through expectations and demands, discussing performance on an annual basis, workers at all levels are left feeling undervalued. This leads to dissatisfaction and resentment, which ultimately prevents the person from effectively doing his/her job. And it doesn’t stop there – resentment and negativity can breed like rabbits.
While money, as in a raise or a bonus, does show an employee they are valued, money cannot replace consistent verbal or written recognition or actions that show appreciation. From the top down, managers should use what I call the MAR Approach – Management through Appreciation and Recognition.
I worked for a company for some time that was struggling financially. There were minimum 1%, sometimes 2% raises and a once-a-year “thank you for all of your hard work” from the President. The rest of the year, there was an expectation to work harder, do more, etc. And I believe most would willingly have worked harder and done more, had they felt appreciated and their hard work recognized throughout the year. There were so many missed opportunities to reward and recognize employees’ hard work and dedication.
Verbal and written recognition is great and it’s personal: “Bill you really did a fabulous job on that presentation.” And recognition of others in front of others demonstrates how management values employees and creates an environment where everyone wants to excel. Actions are also important and can convey value, such as taking employees to lunch, bringing in doughnuts for the team, giving someone an extra vacation or the afternoon off. When employees think back on those actions, they feel appreciated.
Not to take this down to dollars and cents, but when an employee feels valued, feels appreciated, that employee will be more productive and more effective in his or her role. In other words, happy employees = productivity, which translates to higher revenues. Want proof, look at companies such as Google, Netflix, and Facebook that offer perks ranging from free food to massages.
You may not work at a large, highly visible company like Google, or be able to offer free massages, but you can still actively demonstrate, on a consistent basis, how much you value those individuals who work for you. How? Well, think back on your favorite managers. Spend some time reflecting on your own management style. Think about those who report to you and determine what would best demonstrate how much you value them?
Anne Converse Willkomm
Director, Graduate Studies