Do I really have to compliment my employees all the time? That's why they get paychecks.

In my last post, I shared the Hartman Performance Diamond as a model to think about the four key enablers to effective employee performance. Those were 1-Expectation Clarity, 2-System for Success, 3-Competence, and 4-Motivation.

When I conduct assessments to uncover why team members are not performing well, the most frequent breakdown I find is Expectation Clarity, which I recently covered. The next most frequent breakdown I see is in the area of Motivation.

How can you make sure your people are getting what they need in the motivation department? To help, I like to use Chapman and White’s Languages of Appreciation, which I’ll cover here and Herzberg’s Two-Factor Motivation-Hygiene Theory, which I’ll share in a future post.

Motivation can be tricky, because what motivates one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. People get their job-joy in a variety of ways. Some folks get satisfaction out of a job well done. Some enjoy being part of something exciting and bigger than themselves.  Some enjoy the challenge of their work. Some are motivated by their relationships with team members or customers.

On top of some combination of those, most people need to feel appreciated in order to bring the best of themselves to the job.  In the organization assessments I mentioned, the leaders may appreciate their employees but are not expressing that appreciation in a way that resonates for the employees. Sometimes when sharing my findings with a leader, he or she scoffs at the idea of having to do anything special to show appreciation. I often hear something like, “Isn’t that what the paycheck is for?”. The short answer is no. The paycheck is necessary but not sufficient for most employees to dig deep and give their all at work.

Gary Chapman and Paul White’s The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work, teaches us that there are 5 different ways people might prefer to have appreciation demonstrated.

  1. Words of affirmation: Such as, “Hey John, you crushed it in that Sales presentation. Way to go!”
  2. Gifts of service: For example, you might do his evening cleaning duties or run an errand for him.
  3. Quality time: This could include spending time with the employee to understand his or her interests or taking the time to provide mentoring.
  4. Tangible gifts: For example, a bonus, gift card, chocolate or tickets to a movie she’s been talking about wanting to see.
  5. Appropriate touch: Such as, a high-five, pat on the back, or maybe a hug. Be careful with this one and make sure that it is APPROPRIATE for your work environment and comfortable for that employee. Someone may like touch but not a hug from you.

Homework: When do you feel most appreciated? Is it when a customer praises you or a co-worker brings your favorite homemade brownies? Maybe it’s something else.  

What are the things that seem natural for you to do to show your appreciation for your employees? Do you do the same thing for everyone or tailor the approach to the person’s preferences? Consider asking each employee privately about the sorts of things that have happened in any workplace that truly made him/her feel appreciated. Then, customize your approach to demonstrate appreciation in the way that is most powerful for each employee.