Should Appreciation Be Performance Based?

A question I often hear when I’m conducting training for a business is: Should you show appreciation to someone who isn’t performing well? The reply you receive may depend on who is answering the question. Friction exists in the world of recognition and rewards, employee engagement, and appreciation. Differences of opinion are prevalent on the relationship between an employee’s performance and recognizing them. Should you recognize an employee if they aren’t doing well in all areas of performance? Is appreciation independent of performance? To address the issue, I think we need to keep two foundational principles in mind (and acknowledge... Continue reading...

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August 1, 2022 9:00 am
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Picking Up Cues that Your Colleagues Need Some Encouragement

You may be surrounded by co-workers that need to be encouraged and feel appreciated, and you may not know it. While some people ‘wear signs’ on their faces or in their body language that show they are getting discouraged or nearing burnout, many people are harder to read. They may not say much or have non-demonstrative facial expressions. Additionally, some of us are not especially talented at picking up clues sent out by others. Here are some clues that you can watch for to help you know when your coworkers may need a message of appreciation or encouragement: Irritability and... Continue reading...

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July 25, 2022 9:00 am
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Why We Do, What We Do, the Way We Do

Successful companies and organizations have certain core values and commitments that run throughout their corporate cultures and are often visible in the services they offer and products they produce. When you think about Hilton, Chick-Fil-A, Southwest Airlines and Mercedes Benz, you know what you will be getting as a customer. This is because they have worked hard to make certain priorities and behaviors a part of their DNA. (If you don’t like or have the same values they do, you choose an alternative provider.) Hilton and Mercedes Benz provide quality and luxury at a higher cost to the consumer. Southwest... Continue reading...

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July 18, 2022 9:00 am
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The Employees You Should Worry about Losing – The Average Ones

A disturbing long-term trend has been documented by research – that a vast majority (up to 87%) of the workforce is either not engaged (read: they are present physically but not mentally or emotionally), or are totally disengaged (they actually undermine the success of an organization).  This is in spite of the fact that over 85% of organizations have an employee recognition program (which obviously aren’t working). Don’t Focus So Much on Top & Low Performers A basic challenge in working together with others is that not everyone performs at the same level with regard to the quality and amount... Continue reading...

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July 11, 2022 9:00 am
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Four Steps to Ensure You Return from Your Vacation Rested

Summer has arrived. And along with the warmer weather comes the opportunity for summer vacations. Getting away from your home, your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary for you to rejuvenate and re-energize. Vacations can provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, we often come back from a vacation tired and worn down and needing additional time to recover from our trip. To help, here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your time off. The Four R’s Rest. Try to schedule your vacation... Continue reading...

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June 27, 2022 9:00 am
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Creating Harmony and Positive Energy at Work

A vibrant workplace draws people to it — quality, talented employees want to work in a healthy context. A vibrant workplace is the antithesis of how many work environments are described: negative, energy-sapping, and toxic to growth. In healthy workplaces, employees bring their own gifts and unique personalities to add to the synergy of a dynamic work setting. This is particularly relevant right now. Recent research by the Sloan School of Business at MIT found that during the recent Great Resignation that employees cited workplace culture issues as the reason they were leaving by a factor of 10x in comparison... Continue reading...

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June 20, 2022 9:00 am
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The Challenge of Apathy

Recently, I was speaking to a group of organizational leaders about workplace culture, and I asked them about some of the more challenging issues they are seeing. One leader responded: “apathy” — to which numerous others nodded in affirmation. They went on to elaborate: “Younger leaders are more passive” “They seem willing to live with the status quo,” and “They lack passion — they don’t seem to have any ‘fire in their belly.’” The senior leaders I was training were asking: “What do I do?” “How can I motivate a developing leader who doesn’t seem interested?” Unfortunately, this is not... Continue reading...

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June 13, 2022 9:00 am
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The Importance of Peer-to-Peer Appreciation

In the past, an employee’s relationship with their direct supervisor was found to be one of the most influential factors in whether or not the employee enjoyed their job. So, when we first started applying the 5 languages to work-based relationships, our early focus was on training supervisors and managers in how to communicate appreciation effectively to their team members. While this was a good starting point, we quickly learned that to focus solely on managers and supervisors was too narrow and not all that was needed. Although most employees like to receive positive messages from their supervisor, hearing encouragement... Continue reading...

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June 6, 2022 9:00 am
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‘Appreciation’ May Not Be What You Think It Is

When you hear the word ‘appreciation,’ what comes to mind?  The answer may vary depending on the context of the situation. When it comes to financial investments, you want your assets to appreciate – to increase in value (this is also true for real estate and even your home).  In personal relationships, we often feel compelled to communicate appreciation (that is, gratitude) when a friend or family member has done something to help us out, like helping us move into a new home, or bringing a meal when you’ve just had a baby. Even in the workplace, a person’s response... Continue reading...

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May 31, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Gifts

When comparing the various Languages of Appreciation, it’s easy to see that employees overwhelmingly don’t choose tangible rewards as the primary way they want to be shown appreciation. Only 6% of employees identify tangible gifts as their primary language of appreciation. And they also choose tangible gifts as their least valued language almost 70% of the time. This is important to consider because most employee recognition programs emphasize giving gifts. While there is obviously nothing inherently wrong about this, companies end up wasting millions of dollars giving gifts to employees that aren’t wanted and do little to improve performance. This is especially... Continue reading...

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May 23, 2022 9:00 am
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How Do I ‘Move On’ When Someone Has Offended Me?

Sometimes conflict at work arises when we feel we have been treated wrongly. This can result in our feeling hurt, embarrassed, let down by another, offended, angry, and disappointed. These responses are the result when someone’s actions (or lack of action) are in contrast to what we believe should have happened. That is, when our expectations aren’t met by others. Whatever the source of the conflict is, we cannot truly resolve it and move on unless we are able to let go of hurt, anger, fear, bitterness, and the other negative emotions we have. The process of letting go—that is,... Continue reading...

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May 16, 2022 9:00 am
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Appreciation Isn’t Just an American Concept

I have had the privilege of traveling internationally to numerous countries to introduce the concept of authentic appreciation in the workplace. Fortunately, authentic appreciation and vibrant workplaces aren’t limited to certain cultures. They exist on every inhabited continent. Our book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, has been translated into 23 languages. Lessons from a Multinational Training Experience A few years ago, I had the opportunity to train the management and supervisors of an elite international organization in how to communicate authentic appreciation to their staff. Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries, the staff (in one location) come from over... Continue reading...

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May 9, 2022 2:50 pm
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5 Languages Spotlight: Quality Time

Many people assume that appreciation is always communicated verbally. While using words is one way to show staff members that you value them, many employees prefer appreciation shown through the language of Quality Time. In fact, Quality Time is the preferred appreciation language for 26% of employees in the U.S. (or, one of every four of your colleagues.) By Quality Time, we mean spending time with a colleague either by giving the person your focused attention, working collaboratively with them, or (for some people) just “hanging out.” You are showing that you value them by giving them your most precious resource:... Continue reading...

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May 2, 2022 9:00 am
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How Much Evidence Do You Need?

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut — and breaking out of it is difficult. Sometimes we get busy and put things we want to do on the back burner. And sometimes we’re waiting for more evidence to convince us. Well, friends, the time to act has arrived. Here are the facts on the current state of employment in the United States: Finding and hiring new (and qualified) employees is incredibly challenging. Recent research has shown that employees who are quitting their jobs are 10 times more likely to be leaving because of toxic cultural issues than for better compensation.... Continue reading...

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April 25, 2022 8:18 am
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6 Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Say Thank You Enough (or Ever)

Words of Affirmation is just one of the five ways employees like to be shown appreciation. And business and organizational leaders are constantly reminded how important it is to communicate appreciation to their staff — and it is. But sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t said often enough. When employees feel truly valued and appreciated, good things follow. Team members are less likely to leave for another job, complain and grumble, steal from the organization, or get hurt on the job. Conversely, they are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and... Continue reading...

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April 18, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Acts of Service

“Don’t tell me you care; show me.” This is a phrase often heard from those whose preferred language of appreciation is Acts of Service. For them, actions will always speak louder than words and they feel appreciated when others reach out to help. Over 1 in 5 employees (22%) have Acts of Service as their primary language of appreciation (with another 15% having it as their secondary language). So over one third of your coworkers value appreciation shown through practical actions that will help them do their work more effectively. How you help out a colleague really is situation specific.... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2022 9:00 am
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Battling Disconnectedness and Chaos: Practical Steps for Staying Connected with Your Team

Connectedness has become a huge issue within our culture. The disconnectedness and loneliness created by the COVID-19 pandemic created massive upheaval in our daily social structure (working remotely, reduced social interaction with friends and family, chaos related to children’s education and activities). Our work life has been equally disrupted. Not only with arrangements related to remote, working from home and hybrid working issues, but our normal patterns of relating and communicating have been affected. When we see our colleagues, where we see them, how often we interact, the mode of communication (email, phone, video conference, text, in person) and the... Continue reading...

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April 4, 2022 9:00 am
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Understanding Employee Retention: People Are Loyal to People, Not Organizations

The Great Resignation which has occurred over the past two years is not just an abstract concept – it impacts our everyday lives. Lack of service (calling the customer service department of any major company results in a minimum of twenty minutes on hold), restaurants closing due to lack of sufficient employees, delays in residential construction because there aren’t enough tradesmen to do the work, wait times of months when ordering appliances – the list seems endless. Whether the pattern of continued resignations will continue is not clear. But it appears we have moved from the Great Resignation to the... Continue reading...

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March 28, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Words of Affirmation

How to Use Words of Appreciation Effectively While Words of Affirmation is the easiest language for most people to understand and use, it isn’t always deployed effectively. Supervisors and managers often use words to encourage their team members. Compliments, a simple thank you, praise in front of others – are all examples of common uses of words to send positive messages in the workplace. We have found that following a few simple tips can make the use of words more effective in showing appreciation and encouragement to colleagues (and help you avoid some common errors, as well). To be most... Continue reading...

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March 21, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Get Past the Most Common Challenges to Creating a Culture of Appreciation

While creating a workplace culture of appreciation is fairly straightforward, a number of practical challenges also exist. Research has shown that teaching leaders and colleagues how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another can make their workplaces more positive. And the impact has been demonstrated in medical settings, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, multinational corporations, financial institutions and manufacturing firms. (Read the recent New York Times business section article* on the 5 languages of appreciation.) But, like trying to implement any change, obstacles can arise. After working with numerous organizations to implement the 5 languages of appreciation, we noticed some... Continue reading...

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March 14, 2022 5:35 pm
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Observations & Predictions about Workplaces for the Remainder of 2022

Since I have the opportunity to work and interact with a lot of different businesses, organizations, and government agencies, people often ask me: “What do you think about the future of work? What is it going to look like? Are remote and hybrid working arrangements here to stay?” As a result, I thought I would share my observations, beliefs and predictions. Observation #1: How organizations approach remote / working from home (WFH) and hybrid work will continue to largely be determined by the nature of work to be performed. From the beginning of the pandemic, the type of work to... Continue reading...

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March 7, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Rebuild Trust When a Relationship Has Been Damaged

For life to work, we have to trust. Trust is critical for any functional relationship—with our family, our friends, and even our work-based relationships. The issue of trust—and mistrust—is powerfully relevant in our culture today. We hear comments about trust all over the news and frequently in personal conversations: “I trust that guy about as far as I can throw him.” Trust is essential to work-based relationships for many reasons: effective teamwork, collaboration with suppliers, smooth functioning of the organization to produce goods and services, better customer relationships and, ultimately, to obtain optimal outcomes. MISTRUST IN WORK RELATIONSHIPS There are... Continue reading...

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February 21, 2022 9:00 am
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Making Things Right When You’ve Messed Up

We all make mistakes. Sometimes inadvertently. Sometimes we did what we thought was right (only to find out later, it wasn’t). And sometimes we just make a poor choice – for whatever reason. Making a mistake at work, to many of us, seems more serious than ones we commit in our personal lives. A misstep at work affects others, makes us look bad to our colleagues or boss, and may have serious ramifications on our work status. The Challenge of Acknowledging Our Errors For some of us, acknowledging to ourselves that we messed up is difficult. While admitting we made... Continue reading...

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February 14, 2022 9:00 am
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The Different Faces of Workplace Conflict

Not all conflicts look the same. And sometimes we don’t even realize there is tension in the air until someone points it out to us (“Have you noticed how standoffish Julie has been to us since that disagreement in the last team meeting?”). On the other hand, some individuals perceive friction when it doesn’t really exist in the other person’s mind. For example, you may think someone is upset with you because they have been “cool” toward you, when, in actuality, they are not very interactive because they are concerned about their mother who is in the hospital. Let’s lay... Continue reading...

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February 7, 2022 9:01 am
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Does the Conflict at Your Workplace Give You a Headache?

Understanding where conflict comes from Conflict at work happens – a lot. And it is a major source of stress for both employees and supervisors.  It shouldn’t take you but a few seconds to recall a tense moment in your workplace — to remember the discomfort of watching a not-so-friendly disagreement in a meeting. Or to relive the sting of a critical comment made in front of your colleagues. One study found that, on average, each employee spends 2.1 hours every week (or one day per month) dealing with conflict in some way. Either being directly involved in a disagreement,... Continue reading...

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January 31, 2022 9:00 am
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Tips for Developing a Culture of Appreciation: How to Get Past Being ‘Stuck’

Many of us have good intentions. We want to help improve our workplace culture, become more positive and supportive, and less combative and stressful. And many of us have tried, but have gotten stuck in their endeavors. Our efforts in introducing the 5 languages of appreciation to leaders and colleagues have either been met with a lukewarm response or started out well, but fizzled before getting off the ground (partly due to all of the challenges the COVID pandemic has created). But I would encourage you: Take heart! Steps can be taken to get you ‘unstuck.’ Remember: People Have Limited... Continue reading...

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January 24, 2022 11:20 am
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Appreciation Across Generations

How Preferences Among Different Age Groups Should Influence Your Recognition Strategies If you approach communicating appreciation and recognition to employees the same, regardless of their age group, you are at high risk for missing the mark – including wasting your time, energy and the organization’s money. Recent research with over 190,000 employees found that how they prefer to be shown appreciation varies significantly, especially for employees in the youngest and oldest generations. Utilizing the five languages of appreciation model, we found that while the pattern of preferred appreciation languages generally carries across age groups, a shift is occurring. Historically over... Continue reading...

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January 17, 2022 9:00 am
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Qualities of Highly Successful Teams

Working with a team of very talented, capable and successful professionals can be exciting and rewarding, these teams can also present challenges. But there are factors that can make these All-Star teams incredibly impactful. Examples can be taken from many areas of life: music groups, sports teams, legal and political teams, strategic business partnerships. Unfortunately, many examples of ‘Super Teams’ that failed also exist – which leads to the question: What are the necessary ingredients for success? Ingredients for Highly Successful Teams *Team members voluntarily submit to a selected leader (or leaders). Clear, designated leadership is critical; although it can... Continue reading...

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January 10, 2022 9:00 am
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Perseverance, Focus & Positivity

To begin the New Year, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about three key characteristics associated with success: perseverance, focus, and positivity. Perseverance Following up on last week’s blog on persevering to complete previous goals, here’s an image to consider. Focus When you focus on problems, you will find more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you will discover opportunities. Positivity And a couple of thoughts on positivity: I was called ‘pretty’ today!  Actually, the full statement was, ‘You are pretty annoying,’ but I only focus on positive things. *** “Sometimes when you are in a dark place, you... Continue reading...

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January 3, 2022 9:21 am
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My Surprising Goal for 2022

It’s that time of the year again – when we think about resolutions for the new year. Rather than considering a new list of “to do’s,” I’ve been thinking more about the role of perseverance in our lives, and in the lives of those who accomplish meaningful goals. While resolving to start new habits or achieve new goals is obviously a worthy endeavor, I believe sticking to and finishing those tasks not yet completed may be a better use of our time and energy. Our culture idolizes the “new” and really doesn’t think much of the boring, “steady as she goes,” day in... Continue reading...

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December 27, 2021 9:00 am
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