How to Overcome Common Obstacles to Creating a Culture of Appreciation

May 27, 2024 11:07 am Published by
Overcome the Two Main Obstacles to Reaching Your Goals | Appreciation at Work with Dr. Paul White

While creating a workplace culture rooted in appreciation is fairly straightforward, a number of practical challenges also exist. Even though research has shown that teaching leaders and colleagues how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another can make their workplaces more positive, getting everyone on board can be difficult.

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, where we identify and address ten common impediments.

You Are Not Alone

One of the most beneficial aspects of identifying frequently encountered problems is what psychologists call normalization. That is, learning that what you are experiencing is fairly normal – that you are not incompetent because you’ve hit a wall of resistance 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 barriers – you are not alone. This realization, by itself, can be encouraging.

5 of the Most Frequently Encountered Challenges and Tips on Where to Start

  • 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 Solution1: We have had 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. Potential Solution2: Share examples of other organizations that have experienced positive results, like our article in the New York Times or a podcast with an organizational leader.
  • 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. Share this video by Dr. White with them on misconceptions leaders have about appreciation.
  • 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 Solution1: Share the video Dr. White has created to address this concern. Potential Solution2: 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 Solution1: 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. Solution2:  Share this video differentiating recognition for performance from appreciation for the person.

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. Our Vibrant Workplace Training Kit was created to help you address and overcome these issues. There are pathways forward and you can create a cultural of appreciation at your workplace.

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Published by
May 27, 2024 11:07 am

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