Recently, I led a workshop for women (and 1 man) who are looking for their “right fit” job. The discussion yielded solid consensus on one thing: there is not very much acknowledgement and appreciation in the workplace today.
Around the room, I heard people feel under-appreciated – for their efforts, results, talent, and contributions. Some people called it working for a micro-manager who appeared not to trust their judgment and competency. Others said they worked for a psycho who criticized them constantly. A few talked about “imposter syndrome,” an actual psychological condition where you feel people will find out you aren’t really that talented or able and thus will be booted out of your job. And others had a hard time owning their accomplishments and skills during the exercises I led them through. Tooting one’s own horn is frowned upon.
Clearly, these people work in organizations that mirror our dominant culture of finding and calling out mistakes, errors, lapses, omissions, typos, and failures. I find it sad.
VALUE OF APPRECIATION
Management and leadership experts have for years noted the importance of appreciating people. You can start the ball rolling by appreciating your own talents, skills and accomplishments.
Write down several instances where you have made an impact or where you have derived satisfaction from doing something. I have clients complete an “Accomplishments List” that stretches from childhood through today. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to think of any accomplishments, so I give them examples. I tell them about clients who have won a spelling bee, or put on a play with their neighborhood friends. One man built several forts in the woods near his house. I made the junior cheerleading squad and decided not to join it because my sister and best friends didn’t make it and the other cheerleaders talked down about them. In these accomplishments, I read values, preferred work styles, aptitudes, talents and motivating factors.
- Spelling bee winner = motivated by public acknowledgement, detail-oriented, performer.
- Play producer = collaborative, team leader, entertainment, public acknowledgement.
- Fort builder = self-starter, tenacious, work with hands, creating something new.
- Me = loyal, kind, team player, want to play nice and with nice people.
What can you learn about yourself?
This information will help guide your job search. When I acknowledge and appreciate my unique combination of values and abilities, I can target my search to jobs and employers that will best use them. I’ll do my best work, and the employer will get great value from me. That’s my “right fit” job/work.
You can find your own “right fit” job by first knowing and appreciating yourself, rather than wishing you were someone else or could do something different. I’m not saying you can’t do something different; if you want to change careers, you can do it. You’ll need to start where you are, which means acknowledging and accepting yourself as you are today.
APPRECIATION IN JOB SEARCH
You can show who you are to potential employers, through sincere appreciation of their accomplishments, mission, impact, method of working, scope of work. There are plenty of ways to do so.
I help people write cover letters and networking emails, and suggest they include some sincere appreciation aka flattery. When networking, include a line about why you think they can provide you with advice and guidance. Who doesn’t like to be told they are smart or well-connected or accomplished and respected? You are appreciating your connection’s attributes or accomplishments.
When applying, tell the hiring manager why you want to work there, based on what the company does, its impact, products, approach. What hiring manager doesn’t want to hear how much you think of the company and how attractive a place it is to work? It’s a form of appreciation to tell someone you think their company is great. It’s got to be specific, though. If you just throw around compliments not tied to specifics, people sense the insincerity.
By demonstrating appreciation, you communicate who you are. If you – like so many of my clients – want to be appreciated and valued at your place of employment, begin by demonstrating that quality yourself. My guess is that companies that don’t value appreciation won’t end up hiring you – and that’s a very good thing!
APPRECIATION AT WORK
Appreciation is a powerful tool for building a trust relationship. Trust is so important in any work situation, because we rely on each other to back us up, help us out, complement our skills, share our passion, and fulfill our respective responsibilities. A little appreciation can help people built trust, and go that extra mile again and again. Reciprocal appreciation is really powerful – it’s like rocket fuel for positive relationships.
Appreciation creates a human connection between people. When I compliment someone on their smile, or thank a customer service person for answering my questions so well, I feel better and I think they do. Usually they are surprised, for appreciation is so rare. Yet I think we all know it is part of the glue that keeps families and communities together.
These are some resources articulating the business benefits of appreciation.