Appreciate to Motivate (Five Keys to Successful Team Building)
by Ed Sykes
Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said, “There are
two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.”
Time and time again the one motivating factor that production and is at
the top of most employee lists is appreciation for a job well done. It
is requested more than the green stuff, money.
Why don’t more managers, owners, and employees give appreciation?
Some people state they don’t know how to give it. Others say they don’t
know what to give. Still others say they are too busy to give or show
I think this is one of the biggest sins of managers, being too busy
to give appreciation for a good job well done. Remember what the old
transmission commercials used to say, “You can pay me now or you can
pay me later.” Well, that is what giving appreciation is about. You can
invest in your employees now and “pay” them with sincere appreciation
and achieve even better performance. Or you will “pay” later when you
see your team’s performance sink, corrective actions, and overall
The following are five tips to giving sincere appreciate that will motivate your team to soar to higher level and achieve more:
1. Be Specific In order to get the same behavior or action again
you need to let the employee know exactly what action(s) you are
appreciating. For example, the typical attempt at appreciate sounds
Manager: "Mike, you did a great job earlier today. Keep up the good work!"
Mike:"Thanks" (Mike is thinking what is he complimenting me on?)
The correct way:
Manager: "Mike you did a great job on the report earlier today. I
can see you invested a lot of time on the report by the detail you put
in it. I really appreciate you effort. Thank you."
Mike: "I appreciate you noticed the time a put into the report.
Thanks!" (Mike is thinking that the manager really did read it and
appreciates his effort. I will be glad to do it again.)
As you can see the employee has a clear understanding of what action
the manager is showing appreciated for and he is motivated to take on
the project again.
2. Be Timely Make sure you show appreciation as soon as
possible to the action you appreciate. The further the distant in time
between the appreciation and the action the less impact it will have to
motivate the employee.
Manager: Mike, the report you submitted six month ago was great. Keep up the good work. Thanks!"
Mike: "Thanks, I think. What report are you taking about?"
Always find time to show appreciate in a timely manner. Even if you
need to drop something else take time to appreciate your employees.
3. Be Fair One of the key concerns of students in my workshops
is that when appreciation is shown, it doesn’t seem fair. The biggest
villain of this is the dreaded "Employee of the Month" board. Many
times when you ask the "Employee of the Month" what did you do to earn
it they say, "I don’t know." I have one action you must take when
giving appreciation...be consistent!
* First, clearly state the rules for appreciation so that everyone understands how appreciate is earned.
* Second, be consistent when showing appreciation. If one employee
does a favorable action and you show appreciation and another employee
does the same or similar action and you don’t show appreciation you
have just sewn the seeds of bad morale and feelings of favoritism.
* Third, always be on the lookout for "finding something good" your
employees do well. Once you achieve this mindset you will always find
the good and increase morale and productivity within your team and
* Fourth, be pure in your appreciation. If you to show
appreciation, don’t muddle it with other communication. In other words,
don’t show appreciation for one action and then start discussing a
potential corrective action for another action. This sends mixed
signals that say to the receiver of this communication, "I don’t want
any appreciation because there is always something bad attached to it."
Keep it pure!
4. Be Public, if Possible Appreciation is not something you
hide. It works best when done publicly. Show you appreciation in a
public way in meetings, in front of team members, and management. The
funny thing is that once you get in the habit of doing this many of
your team members will increase the activity they need to take to also
earn this public appreciation.
5. Be Relational When I ask the question, "Why do you come to
work everyday?," in my workshops I usually get "to get paid" as the
first answer the students give. Then as we discuss it further it always
comes down to "I feel like I make a difference" as the main answer. You
see, in most cases the reason why employees decide to climb out of bed
in the morning, their toes touch the floor, and they decide to drive to
work is that they feel that they make a difference where they work.
I remember an opportunity to emcee a large sales meeting for a
Fortune 500 company. I introduced a Senior Vice President and he went
to the lectern to address over 500 employees. He announced that the
company achieved sales of $14 billion. Then he quickly announced that
their goal for the next year was $17 billion. As he was talking I was
looking at the audience. They were unusually quiet and attentive.
However, as I looked at them they had a glassy eye look. I realized the
problem was that the speaker was just talking numbers. He didn’t relate
how those 500+ employees made a positive difference for the company.
All he needed to say was how their sacrifice everyone translated in the
success of the company. Along with this, they will meet the coming
years challenges only with the talents of our employees. So simple, but
so rarely done.
Relate the action done with how if affects the team, department and
organization. Let’s go back to our earlier examples to complete the
Manager: "Mike you did a great job on the report for the new
computer system earlier today. I can see you invested a lot of time to
do the research so that we have the necessary information to request
the computer system. Mike, we appreciate your efforts because the new
computer system will make our team more productive so that the
department will achieve its goals and the company will be profitable
this year. Bottom line, bigger bonuses for everyone. I look forward to
seeing your high level of work in the future. Thank you."
Mike: "Thanks. I appreciate making a difference. Please let me know whatever I can do to help the team."
As you can see, Mike has a clear sense of achievement and where he
fits in the company. Also, the manager encouraged Mike to do the same
behavior soon by saying "I look forward to seeing your high level of
work in the future." And the manager ended with a sincere "thank you."
These are five simple tips that will motivate your employees to
achieve more with a minimum amount of efforts. Starting today, apply
these techniques and you will see a world of difference in your team,
department, and organization. Remember, "pay" yourself with the rewards
now or "pay" yourself with a low performing team later.
Ed Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and success coach in
the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer
service, and team building. You can e-mail him at
mailto:email@example.com, or call him at (757) 427-7032. Go to his
web site, http://www.thesykesgrp.com, and signup for his newsletter,
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Ed Sykes may be contacted at http://www.thesykesgrp.com or firstname.lastname@example.org