Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. – Voltaire
Heather is a valuable employee of an international beauty products company; the written mission:
Empowered by its unique Mission, [said 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. Focus on the bold text above as we return to Heather’s story.
A High Performer
Over the past six years Heather has developed herself from entry level employee to an individual with a strong work ethic. Perhaps that explains one of the reasons she is now an assistant manager.
As our java chat (coaching conversation over coffee) continues she begins to confide in me when I ask, “What is your challenge today?”
The bottom line answer: her growing disengagement at work. You might say “Beauty” is not demonstrating “…harmony in the way we live and interact with one another as human beings” 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? Yes.
Is she a “good employee”, making a difference, does she have highly valued character qualities? Yes.
Has her employer invested time and money in her personal growth and professional development? Yes.
Is she growing as a person…an assistant manager? Yes.
Does the company see an enlarged role in her future? Yes.
Then, why is she considering an exit strategy?
What’s the real question?
If you ask, “How much of a raise does she want?” you asked the wrong question.
Forward thinking leaders would ask:
- What can we do to hold on to this valuable person?
- How will we protect our investment in her training, experience, product knowledge, the personal development of this person, and all her customer relationships?
- What will it take to avoid the high cost of turnover (most agree it is 3 to 5 times an employee’s salary; so Heather’s departure has probable hidden costs of $100,000)?
Note: She did not mention salary or the substantial demands of her schedule.
As my frozen mocha coffee was all but gone and she answered my questions the solution for keeping this emerging leader became quite clear: appreciation. That’s right; the missing skill of her manager is the ability to communicate basic appreciation.
Could it be that simple?
What single behavior change would keep her? Her manager showing appreciation for a job well done, for going the extra mile, for making their store the top performer in the company and she said she would remain on board. Why? She will feel valued and be freed to give her best.
Now, how do you suppose her manager would respond if I were to ask, “Do you appreciate Heather?” You’re right, 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? Most people will assume you disapprove of their performance or them.
Appreciation must be shown to have an impact. Let others know you appreciate them; demonstrate your approval, gratitude, or admiration for their contributions.
How do you keep appreciation simple?
- 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.
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? How well are you showing appreciation?
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