OK queue the J. Geils band. It’s time to catch one of your current or rising stars doing something well and tell them. In other words, actively practice the art of appreciation.
The Art of Appreciation
Most leaders, when asked, will quickly tell you how much they appreciate their team members. They’ll even give specific examples of the types of things that they do that they appreciate so much. However, their team members might not necessarily know this. Why is that the case?
Research from Leadership IQ stated that in 42% of companies the most engaged employees are actually the lowest performers. This happens when top performers are underappreciated and low performers, as research says, “have fallen in love with their cushy jobs” and don’t realize just how poorly they are performing.
It is important to grasp that leaders should use a more effective ratio of appreciation to correction with the right people, doing the right things to improve results. In other words, there is no participation trophy.
Some research, conducted by Emily Heaphy and Marcial Losada, suggests that the average ratio of feedback for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one). The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones). But the average for the low-performing teams was 0.36 to 1, almost 3 negative comments for every positive one. (HBR, The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman)
Don’t be caught “Culturally Overdrawn”
Many leaders have indicated that, regardless of what research shows, their experience with the ratio of multiples of praise to criticism works like a bank account. If we make enough positive “deposits” we don’t end up with a relational deficit when the inevitable challenging feedback comes. Don’t be caught with “Culturally Insufficient Funds.”
Sharing appreciation in public shows the team that the leader is present and engaged. It helps build trust and morale. If you are “too busy” to do this, think again. How each leader expresses appreciation is as varied as there are leaders. However, some basic guidelines are:
· Be Timely
· Be Specific
· Be Public
· Be Unarguable
· Be Real
So, take out your real or imaginary “management camera” and go out and get some Freeze Frames of people doing their jobs well and share them. You can even play some J. Geils in the background if you want.