Looking at my work and life experience from both sides of the desk – as an employee, and as a manager and even company owner – I ask myself: what was I feeling when things weren’t going right? When the world seemed out of balance? When I had done the work, given it my all, but it still didn’t taste good? Even when I was well paid? Or when I was paying others well? What was up? What was I missing?
Appreciation – that’s what I was missing.
Think about it. Why do you sometimes feel an emptiness even after doing a great job chasing down a problem for a customer? Why the feeling of a kick in the stomach when the boss seems oblivious to great results from your efforts, and instead picks on some trifling detail? If you are a manager or business owner, why do you shrug and shake your head despondently when an employee leaves your business after training them and teaching them a new craft for months, or years?
Appreciation would have made all the difference.I am fortunate to be able to say that I have always been paid what I asked for, and then some, particularly in the last decade when my compensation was more than sufficient. Yet, there were days when I felt, well – unappreciated. We each recognize an exquisite balance between tangible compensation (salary, bonus, benefits, insurance plans, company car, window office, etc.) and much loved intangibles (a smile, a letter of gratitude, a congratulatory email, a pat on the back, a warm referral, etc.). When either tangible or intangible compensation is out of proportion to the other, we know it, we sense it, we can describe it. At the extremes, we won’t stay in a company where we are paid appropriately, or even well, but the management or the culture is unappreciative, or even toxic.
We each have examples of this imbalance: I once quit a company that was the top in its industry, with very interesting, even prestigious line of work, but the mental abuse nullified my handsome salary. So money is not enough.At the other end, if you work for a company that is cash strapped, and even if the owner / management is very well behaved, very friendly, approachable and – appreciative – but misses payroll from time to time, well, you have only so much patience for them. Appreciation is good. But you still need to pay your bills.Appreciation is appreciated on both sides of the desk. The manager / owner wants to see smiles and words of appreciation from its employees who recognize the opportunity presented to them by the employment or contractual relationship. The employee / contracted worker is grateful to managers for expressions of a job well done, or of a customer appreciating a problem resolved, or of recognition from peers. We all need that.Let’s be the change we want to see. Turn to someone, now – let them know how much you appreciate them.