appreciation isnt appreciated

When Appreciation Isn’t Appreciated

There is a movement toward a kinder, gentler corporate environment that focuses on appreciation of the contributions of employees. I think it’s a great idea that’s time has come.

When companies recognize that their employees are their greatest asset, and treat them accordingly, less time and money gets spent on employee turnover. It also creates a work environment that is conducive to creativity and best personal contribution.

When companies recognize that their employees are their greatest asset, and treat them accordingly, less time and money gets spent on employee turnover.

Regular evaluations are a great way to let employees know how they’re doing. Evaluations can help negate the stress of uncertain job security. Without all the “wonder how I’m doing” or “are they happy with me” that is a part of a non-interactive management style, employees can relax and innovate. Even an evaluation that points out shortcomings is better than no evaluation at all. The employees can expect that if there is a problem with their performance, they’ll be made aware of it and be given the opportunity to turn things around instead of being let go without warning. Best practices would, of course, include appreciation and recognition of what is going right as part of the same evaluation, with tips of how to get even better.

Appreciation and recognition are key factors in creating a safe feeling and productive workplace. People will often stay loyal to a company that appreciates them and makes them feel necessary, over a company that pays better but doesn’t validate or appreciate their contributions. Taking this “human need” into account is just good business and companies that do it well are rewarded with loyalty and great contribution.

There is also a risk involved in “appreciating” people, however. That risk is doing it in an in-genuine way.

In-genuine praise is using the carrot and making it feel more like the stick. People can tell the difference between sincere praise and when it’s being given with other intentions. Having been on the receiving end of insincere praise, I can tell you it makes me feel more like I need a shower than validated.

People will often stay loyal to a company that appreciates them and makes them feel necessary, over a company that pays better but doesn’t validate or appreciate their contributions.

Insincere praise is praise given to inspire someone to do more because it profits you more. It has nothing to do with validating the other person. It’s more about stroking people in order to improve the bottom line. Any praise given in a self-serving spirit will always come back to bite the giver.

Insincerity of all types, breeds suspicion, lack of trust, and bitterness. It feels like being given a caramel dipped onion and leaves about the same taste in your mouth. In my opinion, insincere praise is worse than no praise at all because it feels like a condescending pat on the head that assumes the stupidity of the receiver not to know the difference. It ultimately comes off more like mocking than a validating.

The move toward a kinder and gentler work place is a great idea. I don’t believe there’s a person alive that doesn’t thrive in a nurturing environment where they feel important to the over all mission of the company. I applaud all efforts to help corporations see the benefits of such an environment. I also hope that they make sincerity part of the overall messaging. Without that element, things could get worse before they get better.

Have you ever received insincere praise? How did it effect your relationship with the giver?


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Image credit: designaart / 123RF Stock Photo

Anita Stout is an author, and the CEO of Wellness Pays Inc. which focuses on helping people live better lives through better choices physically and financially. She believes her greatest contribution, raising six children, will prove to be her life’s masterpiece. She recently completed a new book titled Life Isn’t Broken (in editing) and publishes a blog by the same name. Her love of diversity, brilliance, and lively conversation, led her to her husband David, who pastors a different church than she attends and has opposing political views.

  • Margy

    Your comment on a previous Switch and Shift article is how I connected with you, “lavish praise makes me want to crawl in a hole”. I’m delighted that you’ve been able to expand on that point here. I, too, am a huge advocate of expressions of appreciation, but ONLY WHEN they’re sincere. Insincerity, having an ulterior motive, lack of authenticity erode trust and damage relationships. You raise some great points. Your bio has piqued my curiosity. Great post!

  • Ian Berry

    Good article Appreciation conversations need to be in harmony with accountability conversations Doing both keeps everyone grounded and lessens insincerity. I have been helping my clients with these kind of conversations for almost 25 years and can attest to the fact that they really make a difference

  • lifeisntbroken

    Thanks for weighing in Ian. You’re right! Laying on kudos unless they’re deserved is like enabling misbehaving children hoping they’ll do better next time. Accountability is an important part of a successful system.

  • Kathy Wahlquist

    Great article Anita! I wholeheartedly agree with you!

  • lifeisntbroken

    Thanks Kathy! Great to hear from you.

  • Jimbabwe

    It’s feels like a question of honesty that can make or break a relationship. Is the recognition genuine or not. If not it will be difficult to trust any recognition in the future just like it is when someone lies to me and it’s difficult to trust them in general in the future. But if it’s genuine………. can there be any more empowering element in a work place!?

  • lifeisntbroken

    Great point Jimbabwe. The principle of sincerity applies to all relationships be it at work or in our personal relationships. GENUINE appreciation is important where ever you find people. The best way to know who needs to feel genuinely valued is to check for a pulse. If you find one, they do.

  • Derek

    Great read! I couldn’t agree more with the point that great culture can trump salary. At my company, we try to pay competitively but can’t always roll with the big dogs, salary wise. Not surprisingly, talented people frequently get other offers. But time and time again, we’ve been able to hang onto our people because they’ve felt valued and appreciated.

    But appreciation isn’t one size fits all and it’s not always easy to understand what motivates some people. Not surprisingly, every time we have failed to put in the effort to connect meaningfully with those hard-to-read team members, trouble has followed.

    Great article, look forward to more!

  • lifeisntbroken

    Thanks Margy!
    As a closet introvert, having the spotlight shined on me publicly is awkward but sincere appreciation done privately fills me up as much everyone else. I blame myself for the awkwardness since I’ve learned to fake extroversion so well. :)
    Insincerity, whether public or private is never appreciated and those who believe they’re getting away with it are fooling only themselves.

  • lifeisntbroken

    The culture at your company is worthy of a post of it’s own. You’ve done an outstanding job of making “work” a home away from home and creating a family of your team.

    I couldn’t agree more that one size doesn’t fit all. Some people appreciate public displays of appreciation. That makes my closet introverted self want to crawl into a hole and pull earth over my head. A simple quiet thanks is better, and a note (which doesn’t make me kick the instep of my shoe and squirm) is best. That I can relish privately over and over.

    Thanks for your comments!

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