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Language of Appreciation in the Workplace: What you SAY and What you DO

Showing appreciation in the workplace may be a prickly pear for most of us because we assume that the way in which we want to be recognized, awarded and appreciated is applicable to how our staff perceives accolades, commendations and incentives.

Actually there is a lot more to this matter.

No time for Quality Time? You just need 5 minutes

Your employee speaking the language of QUALITY TIME requires you to be PRESENT and ATTENTIVE when engaging with them. That entails no screen checking of smart devices, or any type of multitasking activity. They feel appreciated when your focus is strictly on them, even for as little as five minutes. What transpires during that conversation is actually of little importance in their world.

Whether you talk about work, life or the latest World Cup ranking makes no difference, but they will walk away at the end of that conversation with a feeling of appreciation and a sense of worthiness.

Practical implementation:

Ask their opinion about a project if you catch them in the lift Pop around their workstation every now and again for a quick chit-chat

Key Ingredient: FACE to FACE time


GIFTS: Gestures of Appreciation, Superficial After Thoughts or Bribes to Perform?

Among our staff compliment are those individuals who speak the appreciation language of gifts. Often the core focus of employee recognition programmes revolves around rewarding staff with gifts (vouchers, discounts, entertainment tickets, travel incentives and yes..chocolate and alcohol too). Oh, and let us not forget the copious amounts of branded stationery, gear and coffee mugs doing the rounds during the Silly Season and Valentines Day.

In principle, presenting gifts to staff is a positive act with the aim to motivate employees and to thank them for their efforts, or is it?

Getting it wrong:

The stress balls and notepads left over from last year's expo conference do not make for suitable end of year appreciation gestures. Trying to motivate (bribe) a disengaged staff member to arrive on time for work with a few entertainment vouchers won't work either. The bunch of flowers delivered to your assistant, who ''speaks'' quality time as their appreciation language, will probably go almost unnoticed.

Getting it right:

Give gifts only to those who speak the appreciation language of gifts, but put some thought into it! That will show more appreciation than the gift itself. Gifting can be ''the gift that keeps on giving'' if done without expecting anything from the employee in return.

There is POWER in Words of Affirmation

The pen is mightier than the sword. And so is the spoken word in the World of Work as well.

Managers, listen up! What you say and what you write has the power to turn apathy into commitment, cynicism into engagement and frustration into inspiration.

For employees with Words of Affirmation as their primary Language of Appreciation, what you ''do'' as a manager is of little concern. This type of employee is, in fact, the easiest to motivate because the words they ''hear'' and ''see'' empowers them to perform. These employees thrive on verbal expressions of praise and recognition. The simplest email one-liner, taking a few seconds to type can uplift them from Zero to Hero in an instant. Not discounting a WhatsApp thumbs-up or hands-clapping emoji.

Words of Affirmation is a communication gift that keeps on giving. The more you affirm, the more they perform, the more they perform, the more you affirm... catch my drift?

Acts of Service: Gestures of Random Kindness

Your employees all receive a paycheck and in return you expect a certain level of effort from them to complete tasks on a daily basis. Acts of service however goes beyond what is expected of you as a manager that will ease the burden of responsibilities on a staff member. Getting your hands dirty, joining staff members in the ground level trenches shows them appreciation and recognition when they are in a crunch.

An employee who's appreciation language is Acts of Service will be inspired by your ''doing'' instead expressing your appreciation with verbal communication.

In a nutshell, your actions will speak louder than your words.

A few points to note:

Ask before you help. Serve voluntarily without expecting anything back.

Be mindful of your attitude. Do it their way. Complete what you start.

Appreciation is the key to retention.

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