100% Jodi: How to Show Your Team Your Appreciation…Especially if it Doesn’t Come Naturally to You

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Does your team know how much you care about them? 

Do they know how much you want them to experience growth, success and happiness as a part of your organization?

Or, do you assume that they know because they should know? 

In this episode we’re covering why consistently taking a genuine interest in those around you is so important and how to do it effectively. Because, whether you know it or not, your people don’t all like to be appreciated in the same way.

Appreciation Starts with Genuine Interest

One of the key aspects of leading people effectively is the ability to show genuine interest. Genuine interest, meaning that you not only act as though you care, you really do care and listen to what people are saying. 

Consistently showing genuine interest is easier said than done. Especially if you are leading a fast-paced team or you are getting pulled in many different directions. 

Also, it’s just a reality that some people have more empathy, curiosity, or are more people-oriented than others.

As a leader, part of your growth involves developing the ability to lead your team to its highest potential. This included cultivating your ability to empathize, be curious, and consider the people impacted by any decision you make.

I have no doubt that if you are listening to this podcast, it’s because you want to become a better leader. And not just for your own career development and advancement. You want to be a better leader for your team and your organization.

Many of the women I work with care deeply for their teams. They just forget to make time to express that caring such that their team knows they are cared for and their leader is interested in them as an individual. 

Appreciation Benefits Them… and You

If, for whatever reason, consistently showing genuine interest in those around you is something you struggle with, there is good reason to keep working toward mastering this skill. 

You would be better able to:

  • Build rapport and show that you care. 
  • Show your team that they and their contribution matters. 
  • Listen better and put things in context. 

You’ll create a sense in others that they are not just a means to an end. They will know that you appreciate them as human beings. 

All in all, you would be able to build a team of people who will love what they do, who will respect you, enjoy working with you, and ultimately will be much more motivated and productive.

According to John Hall, a senior contributor at Forbes, “Employees who feel valued and appreciated by their leaders are infinitely more likely to go above and beyond for the company and hold themselves accountable for their part of a project. Most importantly, they will be happier in their roles. If leaders disregard the importance of connecting with employees, they lose the benefit of a dedicated, long-term team.”  

Make the Time to Appreciate Your Team

Some find it difficult to personally connect with employees while still maintaining a position of authority — I think the trick is to simply show them you care. 

It takes a team to get a business off the ground and keep it running, and business owners with the most talented employees tend to have the most success. But finding and keeping the right talent takes more than good luck. One of the best ways to retain your employees is to show them that they are valued.

Start with setting aside time to have conversations with your people; conversations that aren’t always about the work and the goals. For many of you, setting aside time will be the hardest part but I’m telling you, the investment is worth your while.

You do have time for this. Because if you don’t make time for these conversations, you’ll have to make time to replace the members of your team who leave because they thought they didn’t matter to you or the company. 

There’s nothing more time consuming than hiring, onboarding, and training a new member of the team. Never mind the time and energy needed to create team cohesion with each new person who joins the team.

If people are likely to leave because of their boss they’re also likely to stay because of their boss.

Appreciation Requires Your Full Attention

Okay, so you’ve put time on your calendar to have genuine conversations with your team.

Next, give your full attention to the person in front of you. Don’t let yourself get distracted by other tasks on your agenda or things going on around you. Attention is a powerful force. So powerful, people know when your attention has waned and I don’t know too many people who take that well.  

Think of the last time you were talking to someone and they got distracted. Where did that leave you? Did you patiently wait for them to come back and give you their attention again, and fully understand?

Often, people feel slighted and perceive that they are not important to the other person when they lose their attention. 

Keep that in mind. Your attention is important. More than you realize.

Get Curious

You’ve carved out time for the other person and you’re ready to give them your full attention. Next get curious about them and wonder how they are seeing and experiencing things.

When you’re curious you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to talk about or what you’re going to ask. Your curiosity naturally leads you to the next thing.

The only thing I would caution, though I don’t think this is an issue for most of the women listening to this podcast. Be careful that your curiosity doesn’t venture into areas that are too personal for the other person or that your curiosity is morbid curiosity.

Let your curiosity come from a place of really wanting to know and understand the other person and wanting the best for them. Be curious as to how you can best support them as an individual.

You not only want to know what’s important to the other person but why it’s important to them. 

Want to Know How You’re Doing Overall?

Would you be interested in discovering your strengths and gaps as a leader so you can be more confident and competent in your leadership?

I developed the Leadership Operating System Quiz, for women like you. This holistic self-assessment allows you to assess your effectiveness in leading others, leading yourself, your ability to influence, your ability to manage your energy, and your communication skills.

It’s a way for you to quickly identify where you could focus your developmental resources. This quiz will also be an acknowledgement of where you are getting a lot of things right.

Those who have used the Leadership Operating System Quiz have described the questions as engaging and thought-provoking. They appreciated getting insights into which areas to focus on, and really liked the resources that were provided at the end.

It will take you about 3 minutes for you to complete. If you think about it, that’s a quick turnaround to gain insight into what would improve your effectiveness as a leader and make being a leader easier and more enjoyable.

Go to womentakingthelead.com/leadership-abilities-inventory to find out more and to take the Leadership Operating System Quiz.

Appreciation and the Platinum Rule

Another thing to consider when showing your team that you are interested in and care about them is how they like to be cared for. 

If you’ve ever read The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman, you get the idea. This book outlines the 5 different ways that we may prefer to have love communicated to us. By understanding your own preferred love languages, and those of your partner, you will both be better able to communicate love and caring to one another. 

The Five Love Languages are:

Words of Affirmation – written or spoken

Quality Time – making time to be together

Receiving Gifts – doesn’t have to be costly, typically small tokes go a long way

Acts of Service – acts that make life easier for the other person, usually involving chores or tasks

Physical Touch – hand holding, back rubs, cuddling, etc.

The interesting thing is we tend to express the love language we prefer but don’t always share the same preferred love languages as our partners. This can create confusion and misunderstandings, so having this information and acting on it goes a long way to creating a loving and harmonious relationship with your romantic partner.

The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

In 2019, Gary Chapman took these concepts to the workplace in his book, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. 

Just like there are advantages to knowing your partner’s preferred love language, what if you knew your team member’s preferred way of being shown appreciation?

The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace are:

Words of Affirmation = feedback and praise, know if they prefer private or public

Quality Time = Workplace Bonding or team collaborations

Receiving Gifts = Small gifts based on their hobbies, interests or foods they enjoy

Acts of Service = Assistance and support to complete a task, dig out, or just work alongside them on a task

Physical Touch = High five, fist bump, pat on the back or shaking hands

There is an inventory your team can take so you know what each other’s languages of appreciation are.

If that’s not an option, in the article, What’s Your Workplace Love Language?, posted on the Career Contessa website, there are great questions you can consider for each member of your team:

  • How does this person treat others?
  • What does this person complain about?
  • What does this person request most often?

Ideas for Showing Your Appreciation at Work

If you are looking for more ideas on how to show your appreciation, I’ve gathered ways leaders can demonstrate their appreciation for team members taken from Forbes, Inc Magazine, and Business News Daily

  • Go above and beyond to personally help them. 
  • Relate to them; don’t act like you’re above them.
  • Show you care about their personal life. 
  • Show interest in their significant others.
  • Back them up with clients.
  • Be real and transparent with them.
  • Create opportunities for new experiences.
  • Be aware of the expectations you set. 
  • Shout out their achievements. 
  • Celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones, personal and professional
  • Let employees give and receive “props.”
  • Feed them.
  • Express your gratitude on social media.
  • Give employees extra time off.
  • Welcome their feedback.
  • Host events for the entire company.
  • Arrange a wellness day.
  • Provide gift cards.
  • Offer training opportunities.
  • Create an employee recognition program.
  • Host happy-hour events.
  • Sponsor volunteer opportunities.
  • Plan an annual retreat.

Before your team will believe in, or care about, the long-term vision of the company, its culture, or its success, they need to feel that you see each of them as a person — not just an “employee” to execute your to-do list. 

They need to feel that you — and the company — are invested in them. Once you show your team how much you value them, there’s nothing they won’t strive to accomplish.

“I’ve come to understand that listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another… if we care, we can listen.” ~ Fred Rogers

As always, I hope this was of value to you and here’s to your success!

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