Heather* is a valuable employee of a beauty products company doing business internationally.
Empowered by its unique Mission, (Company) believes that authentic beauty is one that works in harmony with the greater web of life. It does not qualify as beauty if it hurts any of the diverse life forms that the best beauty artist of all, Nature, created. Authentic Beauty cares for the environment which we inherited from elders and will leave to generations that follow us. Beauty cares for the society in which we live, enhancing harmony in the way we live and interact with one another as human beings. In order to be Beauty, it also needs to be Good. Beauty is the result, but also the process followed in pursuing that result.
There is a lot to process in that statement. Let’s focus on the bold text as we return to Heather’s story.
Over the past six years Heather has developed herself from an entry level, just out of school employee to become an individual with a strong work ethic; that explains one of the reasons she is now an assistant manager.
As our java chat (i.e.-coaching conversation over coffee) continues she begins to confide in me when I ask, “What is your challenge today?” The bottom line: her growing disengagement at work. You might say “harmony” in the human interaction is missing in her experience with her manager.
In addition to Heather’s positive career path with the company, she is consistently hitting performance goals. In fact, she is identified as an emerging leader by regional corporate leaders. That’s awesome. So why are we having this java chat? Why is she thinking about leaving?
Does she like what she is doing?
Is she a “good employee”, making a difference, does she have highly valued character qualities?
Has her employer invested time and money in her personal growth and professional development?
Is she growing as a person…an assistant manager?
Does the company see an enlarged role in her future?
Then, why is she considering an exit strategy?
If you ask, “How much of a raise does she want?” you are ask the wrong question.
Forward thinking leaders would ask —
- What can we do to hold on to this valuable person (employee)?
- How will we protect our investment of her training, experience, product knowledge, and the personal development of this person…and all her customer relationships?
- What will it take to avoid the high cost of turnover (which most agree is 3 to 5 times an employee’s salary; so in this case, $100,000 to $130,000)? By the way, not only was her salary not mentioned; neither was the substantial demand of her schedule; not the issue.
As my frozen mocha coffee was all but gone and she answered my questions the solution to keep this emerging leader became quite clear; some basic appreciation. That’s right; the missing skill of her manager is the ability to communicate appreciation. One simple behavior change by her manager showing some appreciation for a job well done, for going the extra mile, for making their store the top performer in the company and she is on board. She will feel valued and give her best.
Now, how do you suppose her manager would respond if I were to ask, “Do you appreciate Heather?” I think you are correct she would say something along the line: “We love Heather, she is great.”
Here’s the bottom line: appreciation, by definition only exists when expressed. Appreciation is admiration, approval, or gratitude expressed.
Recent U.S. Department of Labor data shows that the number one reason people leave their job is that they do not feel appreciated. (And oh by the way customer loyalty is also based on feeling appreciated.)
Unfortunately the reality is that admiration, approval, and gratitude are left unexpressed far too often; that’s insane. The return on the investment in relationship building and performance is amazing.
What is the message when admiration, approval, or gratitude is not communicated? Have you noticed how most people, if left on their own, imagine the worst case scenario? That means the person will assume you disapprove of their performance or them.
Let’s keep it simple – appreciation must be shown to have an impact. Let him know your thoughts, demonstrate your approval, gratitude, or admiration for her contribution.
How do you go about this?
How to keep appreciation easy…
- Be intentional, notice others and their contributions
- Seize the moment, when you notice say something right then
- Know your people, know what matters to them (public vs. private praise, etc.)
- Leverage existing opportunities, a birthday lunch or coffee, celebrate their date of hire, etc.
- Brag on them to someone special; send a note, an email, or make a brief phone call
For more ideas on recognition consider Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s work Carrot Culture.
What will it cost the company if Heather leaves? At minimum, the hidden costs associated with turnover.
However, when you show appreciation for a person and their contribution they will more likely remain engaged and perform at a higher level. What’s that performance boost worth to you?
What’s your plan for boosting the performance of your team?
How well are you showing appreciation?
For additional thoughts you may enjoy Noelle Nelson’s book: THE POWER OF APPRECIATION IN BUSINESS: How an Obsession with Value Increases Performance, Productivity & Profits.*Some information is changed to protect privacy