Dr. Rob Sheehan: Build a Culture of Appreciation


You honestly appreciate your team and you probably think that they know it.

You are probably wrong.

According to research reported in Harvard Business Review*, many leaders incorrectly assume that the team they work with know how they feel about them.  They call this an “illusion of transparency.”  In other words, no – people cannot read your mind; or your heart.

Here is what we need to do:

1.  Touch Base Early and Often.  Your time is valuable and therefore you don’t want to “waste time” by taking a few minutes to just say hello and have a chit chat with folks on your team.  Guess what – your team also knows that your time is valuable and when you invest it by checking in on them they appreciate it.

2.  Give Balanced Feedback – praise and suggested improvements.  Everyone knows that they are not perfect.  If you don’t provide suggestions for improvement, then your team will wonder if your positive feedback is sincere.

3.  Address Growth Opportunities.  Facilitate “visioning” conversations with each member of your team about where they might go in their career – and then support them in building the skills to get there.

4.  Offer Flexibility.  The remote working situation that many of us have been forced into has offered unexpected benefits.  Don’t you love your new commute?  As offices reopen, build in flexibility for members of your team who may want it.

5.  Make It a Habit.  This cannot be a once a month or even once a week activity.  Appreciation is an attitude that is evidenced by continuous small actions.

6.  Be Authentic!  You cannot fake sincerity.  Your caring interactions can’t be afterthoughts or people will figure that out.  Yelling out “I hope you guys are doing great!” on your way out the office door won’t cut it.

Intellectually, you know that you cannot get the work done without your team – but you need to demonstrate your appreciation in real, practical ways that your team understands.  They will appreciate your appreciation.

Gibson, K. R., O’Leary, K, and Weintraub, J. R.  “The Little Things That Make Employees Feel Appreciated,” Harvard Business Review online, January 23, 2020.

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