So you stayed up all night perfecting your 80-page project report, and after submitting it to your manager, all you received in response was a perfunctory “Thx.”
You’re hardly alone.
A recent poll by Harris and communications consultancy Interact found that American workers’ top complaint about their bosses is that they don’t recognize employee achievements. Some 63% of employees cited a lack of appreciation as an issue with their managers.
We spoke with Lou Solomon, CEO of Interact, about why this issue is so pervasive and problematic.
Many leaders are under tremendous pressure to deliver short-term results, Solomon said. They assume that they don’t have the time or resources to attend to the “human communications” aspect of being a manager.
Yet when managers fail to invest in their relationships with their employees, engagement and performance declines in the long term.
“The human side of business is what drives the bottom line as much as the numbers and operations,” Solomon said.
That’s because employees value appreciation for their accomplishments almost the same way they value a monthly paycheck.
“There are certain things that are a part of compensation that aren’t in that paycheck,” Solomon said, “and one of them is being recognized for talent.”
Solomon cited research by Gallup, which found that employees who receive regular recognition and praise are more productive, engaged, and loyal to their organizations.
But once employees stop receiving that recognition, they may no longer be motivated to support the organization and produce their best work.
On the other hand, when leaders do show appreciation for their employees’ work, “it cascades through the organization and people on all levels start to appreciate one another,” Solomon said. “That is a key indicator of employees who are thriving and contributing to the bottom line.”
- University of Exeter/Flickr
So how do you go about recognizing your employees’ achievements in a way that’s sincere and motivational?
Solomon said there are two key factors: speed and specificity.
Managers shouldn’t necessarily wait until formal newsletters or announcements to dole out praise. Instead, she said, “If a project comes in and it’s on time and it’s on budget and it was well done, then boom! You immediately get feedback.”
Yet a quick “nice work” won’t cut it, no matter how quickly it’s delivered.
“If you tell me that you especially liked the way I was able to get collaboration from another department on a particular project I was in charge of, then I sense that you really understand my giftedness and what I bring to the table,” Solomon said.
She added: “However, if you just tell me, ‘Hey, you did a good job on that project,’ then it’s less satisfying to me. It was general; anybody could say that.”
Across industries, Solomon said, it’s crucial for managers to pay attention to the work that their employees are doing. That way, when you run into a group of them in the parking lot, you can be prepared to say, “Hey, I noticed what a great job you guys did this month on selling whatever item, and I really appreciate it.”
As Solomon put it, “Let them know that you’re in touch with what they are delivering.”