Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"Thanks ...I Appreciate That!"

I truly appreciate the input and insights that so many of my friends, peers and colleagues have provided over the years. 

It's their willing spirit of collaboration and cooperation that has allowed for the free sharing of a greater depth of wisdom with those in my circle of contacts. They have demonstrated as I've often said, ‘that there’s more to be gained by working together than can be achieved on our own.’ 
Lynn Fraser

Appreciation is something that each of us values receiving, but for whatever reason, we may overlook golden opportunities to express it in the workplace. Sharing expressions of appreciation are an important aspect of 'Organizational Culture' which according to are “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.”

In future posts, I plan to share some of the wisdom that others have passed along on their entrepreneurial journey.

In this post, allow me to introduce my friend Lynn Fraser with Balance Your World Training & Coaching ( 

Thank you Lynn for sharing a few of the things you've seen and learned with respect to showing appreciation in the workplace. 

A little appreciation goes a long way

I have a life-long friend who is a dedicated, talented and experienced school teacher.  Cassandra* (name changed) has taught for over two decades at the same school.  She shows up prepared every day to go the extra mile for her students.  She prepares diligently each new term, has rarely missed a day and books personal appointments after school hours.  Her specialized training in art and language, as well as her ability to quickly learn and teach new core subject curriculum makes her hard to replace. 

You would think that she would be greatly appreciated by her supervisor.  Yet the current principal surprised her staff with changes mid-school term to move students and teachers around that have caused additional workload and stress for all with little apparent benefit to more than a few.  Compliments are few and far between.  Trust and morale are at a low ebb.

My friend is not feeling valued or appreciated for her dedication to her profession and students, and she is seriously considering moving schools next school year.  What a loss for those learners, parents & school division.  Yet, it is an avoidable one with a relatively simple solution.

The Power of Gratitude

Showing appreciation – tapping into the power of gratitude – is an overlooked yet critical piece to your success in business and life.  I see this breakdown so often with my coaching clients in all lines of work – managers of family-owned businesses, attorneys, accountants.  I’ve listened individually to an owner and her manager complain about how the other has not appreciated her efforts for years.  Yet when the owner needed a reference letter for a business award nomination, she was so grateful when her supervisor went out of her way – while on holidays – to tell the committee how much she admired and respected her boss.  It’s an all-too-common story.

“Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is… to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.” 
- Stephen R Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Use the SAR formula

According to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary, Recognition encompasses acknowledgement of a service, achievement, ability, etc..; appreciation, acclaim.  To provide specific recognition, you need to describe what the staff person did that you appreciated and would like to see repeated.  Be specific to an event and what action the person took to get the positive results you are recognizing her for.  Use her name. Be timely with your appreciation. 

Situation: Describe the stressor or challenge the employee faced
Action: Identify what the person did to address the challenge
Results: Describe what happened as a result of the action taken and how this relates to the success of the person, others and the organization.

I’ve seen this strategy work well with high achievers who tell me, “Maybe others need praise for doing their job well but I don’t.”  I’ve watched the transformation of a talented young manager who comes to work happier with the positive feedback and support from her coach and owners.  

Giving specific recognition even allows you to praise an underachieving employee for a small thing he does well.  A general “great job” would be glossing things over.  [Instead, you could say, “Thanks for carrying the glass shelf to the customer’s car without her asking.  I sincerely appreciate you demonstrating our company value of Exceptional Service.”  Sometimes, those words of appreciation can motivate additional improvement.

High-Value, Low-Cost Strategies

Although formal service awards are common in companies, I find the simple, low-cost and informal ways of showing appreciation work best.  A personal thank you note is rare and really gets noticed these days, especially if it arrives by snail mail.  One of the best ways I know is to spend quality time with an employee.  It may be as simple as sitting down with a cup of coffee, asking questions and listening to their thoughts, ideas and concerns. 

Here are a few other ideas: 

Taking him out for lunch or a walk.
A gift of a movie gift certificate, favourite candy, pen, candle or a selection of favourite music on a CD or USB stick.  

Keep in mind that recognition needs to be equal to the size of the accomplishment.  An e-mail or post it note that says, “Thanks so much for catching that error on the XYZ customer order” is fine for smaller efforts.  

If someone goes beyond expectations & stays overtime to get the job done, a bigger form of appreciation is warranted.  That’s when spending quality time really demonstrates how much you care.

One thing you know for sure is what comes around goes around.  In Alberta’s boom or bust economy, it’s tempting to pop off a brief thanks in an e-mail and get on to the next task.  Instead, choose one employee this week to show your appreciation in one of the above high-value, low-cost ways.  It’s never too late to begin, and you may be surprised at how your life, your bottom line and your relationships improve.  

Here are valuable resources:

Book: “Thanks! Great Job! Improve Retention, Boost Morale and Increase Engagement with High-Value, Low-Cost Staff Recognition” by Nelson Scott.
Online:  Check out for recognition resources and forms.  Read the Blog post, “Pay attention to me!”
Lynn Fraser with Balance Your World Training & Coaching is an enlightening speaker and a wholehearted coach.  She coaches and mentors individuals who want to be better leaders as well as live balanced lives.  Her consulting focuses on working with business managers and their teams to create a system for sustainable results.  Visit her website at  

What's been your experience? Please add your comments and helpful suggestions for our audience, and share this post with those in your circle of contacts!

* In Closing:  Has your BUSINESS PLAN taken your Organizational Culture into consideration
Pro-Vision Solutions Inc. has a number of helpful ways to include this in your BUSINESS PLAN! 
Simply CLICK HERE for more information and details!

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