Sunday, August 28, 2016

Want to Motivate Your Employees? Appreciate Them

After last week’s episode with my company's HR Manager, I was taken by surprise to hear she had told another employee he needed to buck-up and be more like Savvy.* She told him, "She’s been doing both her job and the CFO’s since he’s been out and you don’t hear her complaining.” She even said something to the effect that I was doing a good job. I couldn’t believe it. My body immediately relaxed, I became calmer, more energized and more motivated. I was surprised after all these weeks of feeling stressed and as if I wasn’t measuring up my company’s management felt otherwise and by how much I needed to hear it.
Thursday our CFO returned. When he walked in the door I started cheering and our entire staff clapped. He said he hadn’t received this big of a welcome from his family when he returned home the previous day. I told him the old saying “Everyone is replaceable” did not apply to him.
Then on Friday, my big 50th birthday, I arrived to an office decorated in black and a little party that included a cake. The employees who work for me and one of our owners were laughing (something I haven’t seen in a long time) and making jokes. They posted neon green post-its with the number 50 on them all over the office (so I wouldn’t forget how old I am). We haven’t celebrated anyone’s birthday in the office in years.
In the midst of all this I accomplished more work than I had in a long time. When I left Friday night I was almost caught up. This was quite an accomplishment considering the previous week I had left the office fearing I may never be caught up again. I honestly think feeling appreciated made all the difference.
I try to make an effort to publicly thank or show appreciation for employees when the opportunity arises. It is easy to do if you are paying attention. Recently I have done the following:
  • I publicly gave credit to an employee for providing new information on a manufacturer’s policy change to all employees via email. (As opposed to our HR Manager who recently touted this same employee’s idea as her own)
  • Via email, I thanked an employee in another department for assisting me with an audit when I was in a bind. I cc’d her boss who later told me how much my email had meant to this employee.
*This comment which was so helpful to me was deflating to the employee who is supposed to buck-up. He was absent the next day, isn’t as sharp as he usually is and seems depressed. Telling someone to buck-up and be like someone else is probably some of the worst advice you can give an employee.
Speaking of advice, the comments I received on I'm 50 Years Old and Still Can't Think On My Feet may be the most helpful comments I’ve ever received on this blog. I sincerely thank and appreciate every one of my commenters.
How about you? Does your employer let you know they appreciate you?


  1. In a few months i will have worked 20 years - 20 freakin' years - with and now for the same guy. There is no way it would have happened had he not been a guy who tells you when he appreciates something you've done right. He's not gushy, just straight. Thanks for doing x... it really helped. Or, take tomorrow off. You've really been at it hard ...

    It makes all the difference in the world. I have tried to remember that lesson - both with folks who work for me and mothers whom i see d looking well.

  2. Yes, so true about the importance of recognizing when people do good work! I think some managers forget how important that is! Happy Birthday! I too celebrated my 50th recently, my gosh each year goes by quicker than the last! Hope you are having a great weekend - found you on SITS.

  3. A little appreciation at work goes such a long way! There's often talk about how to motivate employees, and I think management sometimes forgets what a difference it can make to communicate and appreciate. I'm glad you had a good week at work!

    Stopping by from SITS.

  4. I am motivated by being included in the decision-making conversations and being shown the respect of being heard.

    It's just icing on the cake to hear that I'm the MVP and a star or the best hire my boss has ever had - that sort of thing I love to hear but honestly, I already know that. ;)

    What I want is tangible stuff - show me proof that you value my contributions by giving me a seat at every table I want a seat at and giving me entry to the doors that I wouldn't normally have entry to, and making my voice heard where it wouldn't normally be heard.

    I do know that I'm a bit more focused on that stuff than everyone else, though, and for the others, my staff and even my own boss, they love the frills even if I care less about them.

    So I celebrated their birthdays even when the company refused to pay for it.

    I would buy them a small gift (1 of me, nearly a dozen of them) and make the presentation a big deal. Give them a free 30 minute gossip break on my watch which I don't usually do. And they've co-opted the birthdays into their own thing now, so much so that I don't even need to remember them anymore - they do all the work for them. But I also do other things like Christmas gifts on top of the company sponsored parties out of my pocket as special thank you for their work.

    And whenever they have a good idea or execute well on a project, they're thanked publicly. Credit where credit is due is the mantra.

    And promotions are VERY much merit-based. As are raises. This lesson is coming home to them as they are in their first and second years in the work force as well. Promotions happen and they come to those who are the brightest and work the hardest with tangible results. Not the ones who warm seats the longest with only BS to spout. We don't have many of those and don't coddle them either.

    We're very much in the Ask A Manager school of management.

  5. You certainly have shared a great write up. Its absolutely correct that appreciation is the great key to motivate your employees. It is vital for business owners to understand that a firm's success and an employee's success is interlinked with one another. Happy employees makes a happy company. Every business owner should know how to motivate employees.