The Importance of Peer to Peer Appreciation
Our work is growing in scope and impact (for example, medical practices and hospitals, large corporations, banks, government agencies, public schools, universities, manufacturing firms, insurance agencies, the military.)
But we also have been getting some interesting feedback as we listen to those with whom we work. One repeated message we are hearing is: Supervisors are not necessarily the individuals most concerned about supporting and encouraging those with whom they work.
While we don’t want to disparage managers, employers, supervisors or team leaders; as a group, they often are not the ones who communicate the most excitement in finding out their colleagues’ preferred languages of appreciation and the specific actions that will “hit the mark” in communicating encouragement.
Colleagues are the individuals who seem to be most excited to learn how to support their peers. Team members repeatedly tell us statements like: “I really want to learn how to support my colleagues – I want to know how to encourage them when they are having a bad day.” While no one has ever communicated that they don’t want to receive authentic appreciation from their supervisor, many workers seem to understand that their supervisor may not be able to provide all the support that team members need.
In fact, we are finding that the work groups who are most successful in creating a positive work environment among their colleagues are the ones where the manager understands and works to implement the principle of mutual appreciation and encouragement. Not only does the manager accept the responsibility for communicating meaningful appreciation to her or his supervisees, but the manager also actively supports their team members in utilizing the 5 Languages of Appreciation and the results from the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory to encourage one another. When this happens, a “positive snowball effect” beings to emerge, and the individuals within this work group really begin to enjoy working together.
Why might this be?
In reflecting on this dynamic, the desire colleagues have to show appreciation to one another makes sense on a number of levels:
* Peers know from personal experience the stress and demands their colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis.
* In many settings, there is far more interaction & communication among colleagues than between employees & their supervisors.
* Because of their proximity, co-workers may sense discouragement and the need for appreciation more quickly than supervisors do.
* While appreciation & encouragement from one’s supervisor may be more desired and impactful, support and encouragement from peers may be a more realistic expectation on a day to day basis.
Implications for Action
The implications from this unexpected finding are significant and exciting.
First, this feedback indicates that individuals at any level within an organization have the opportunity to have a significant impact by showing appreciation and encouragement to those with whom they work. The task and communication is not solely in the domain of those who supervise others.
Secondly, the conclusion for supervisors is critical: trying to take on the sole responsibility to communicate appreciation to those whom you supervise will not be as effective as teaching them how to encourage one another. A manager can’t do it all by themselves, but they can lead and educate their staff in a way that mutual encouragement becomes part of the normal communication pattern among the team.
Finally, supervisors and managers need to provide the resources needed for colleagues to know how to effectively encourage their co-workers in the ways that are uniquely meaningful to each person. The gap between good intentions and effective implementation may seem small, but in reality the chasm is more like the Grand Canyon. If you are a leader or supervisor – I encourage you to pursue the resources that will help your team effectively apply the concepts of communicating authentic meaningful appreciation to one another.
Tags: employee engagement, peer to peer recognition
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, employee peer-to-peer recognition, Managers, Peer Recognition, Teamwork