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 common challenges and patterns emerge. As a result, we wrote The Vibrant Workplace – Overcoming Common Challenges to Creating a Culture of Appreciation, which is the follow-up to The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.
You Are Not Alone
One of the most beneficial aspects of identifying frequently encountered problems is what psychologists call “normalization.” Realizing that what you are experiencing is fairly normal – that you are not incompetent because you’ve hit a wall and doing so doesn’t mean you will be unsuccessful. It also means that you can learn from how others have overcome similar obstacles. It is “normal” to run into one of these barriers – you are not alone. This realization, by itself, can be encouraging.
5 of the Most Frequently Encountered Challenges
In The Vibrant Workplace, we identify and address ten common impediments. Here are five of them and some tips for beginning to deal with them:
- Lack of Support from Management. Often a manager or supervisor finds our Appreciation at Work resources and wants to begin using them in their work setting. But sometimes, their leaders aren’t interested and quash the idea. Potential Solution: We have experienced great success supporting mid-level leaders in gaining approval to do a small pilot study with their team. Usually, positive results occur and then the use of appreciation resources can spread across the organization.
- Pushback from Supervisors. Sometimes supervisors (and other leaders) who are presented with the opportunity to learn how to communicate appreciation respond with “When are we going to find time to do this?” or “I’m not interested in that ‘touchy-feely’ stuff.” Potential Solution:We have found that leaders are more open to the concept when given an overview of what appreciation in the workplace really entails. Specifically, addressing the misconception that communicating appreciation is primarily the responsibility of leaders is critical.
- Busyness. By far, the most common reaction from both leaders and team members is something like, “Sounds like a good idea, but when are we supposed to do this? We don’t have the time to get our regular tasks done!” In some ways, they are right. Everyone is busy. And no one needs more work to do. Potential Solution: Affirm that the process will not include creating another to-do list for them. We will take what they are already doing (or almost doing), tweak the actions a bit and make them more effective. Identifying the positive results experienced when team members feel valued helps reduce resistance. When they see that tardiness, absenteeism, turnover, and conflicts over ‘little things’ reduce, they are more willing to give it a try.
- Not Understanding the Difference between Recognition & Appreciation. A common misconception among leaders trained in traditional business practices is that employee recognition and authentic appreciation are the same. “We already have an employee recognition program, isn’t that enough?” is a common reply. Added to this confusion is the misbelief that ‘appreciation’ means only ‘words’ or ‘praise.’ Potential Solution: Correct these common misbeliefs with a brief article, or video can be a good starting point, which can open the door for further discussion and instruction.
- Performance Issues: Underachievers & Overachievers. In many work settings, leaders are concerned about how (or whether) to show appreciation to team members whose performance really isn’t at an acceptable level. They don’t want to praise someone and then have to deal with their unacceptable work level at a performance review. Potential Solution: Acknowledge and affirm their concerns – they are reality-based. But let them know that the training they will go through as a team will address this issue and that thousands of workplaces have applied the Appreciation at Work principles and successfully dealt with this challenge.
This is a start. But other challenges exist (difficult-to-appreciate colleagues, and cross-cultural issues, to name two).
If you have begun to apply the 5 languages of appreciation to your workplace and run into difficulties, don’t give up. Go to the next level and get The Vibrant Workplace resources (book or training kit)** to help you get past the challenges you are facing.
*If you cannot access the New York Times article directly because of the paywall, click here for a PDF version.
**Purchase your copy of The Vibrant Workplace by the end of March and receive an autographed book for only $10 + shipping and handling (regularly $16.99). To claim this deal, use the code “VIBRANT10” at checkout.Tags: challenges at work, obstacles
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation, 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Busyness, employee peer-to-peer recognition, Recognition, Uncategorized, Vibrant Workplace, Workplace Culture