By Jeff Beals
“A sense of appreciation is the single most sustainable motivator at work…Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning. Your raise in pay feels like your just due, your bonus gets spent, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it. But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.”
So stated a recent Wall Street Journal essay entitled “It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office” by Janice Kaplan, author of the new book, The Gratitude Diaries.
Kaplan argues that gratitude – also known as “appreciation for your employees and colleagues” – improves work performance and ultimately organizational effectiveness. Furthermore, she says that “appreciation is the best motivator,” better than even financial incentives.
Kaplan is not alone in the importance she places upon showing gratitude in a professional setting.
Gratitude as Power
In her book, Gratitude at Work, former PayPal and LinkedIn executive April Kelly encourages leaders to use creative means of showing gratitude to their employees, because that gratitude reinforces positive behavior.
“Gratitude helps people feel better,” Kelly writes, “and when people feel better about themselves and about their environment, they try harder, they take more pride in what they do and they care more.
But when it comes to the effectiveness of gratitude in the workplace, we have a discrepancy: too many professionals don’t take the time to show it. Even worse, some professionals might not even feel comfortable showing gratitude.
Kaplan cited a study that found 80 percent of Americans believe that receiving gratitude makes them work harder, yet only 10 percent of the study respondents said they expressed gratitude to others each day.
In other words, we all like to receive gratitude but apparently only 10 percent of us bother to give it. That’s a problem, because people who show gratitude at work have more collegial relationships, stronger allies and more fulfilling careers.
Not Just for the Office
Public displays of gratitude should not be restricted to your colleagues or your direct reports.
I work with a lot of sales leaders and sales reps from a variety of companies. I find it concerning that many people who work in sales, marketing or business development don’t take the time to show earnest appreciation for their clients. Too many sales professionals take for granted their clients, the people who ultimately pay their salaries and commissions.
There’s a popular saying in the business world: “people don’t leave their jobs; they leave their bosses.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement, and it’s probably also fair to say that conversely people would be much less likely to leave a job if they feel appreciated by their manager. Similarly, you could argue that clients/customers would be much less likely to leave a vendor/provider if they are made to feel valued and appreciated by an employee of that company.
It is clearly in your best interest to show gratitude to anyone who influences your success – your bosses, co-workers, staff members, clients and others. And don’t say you’re too busy! That’s just an excuse. Showing gratitude is like investing money – if you always remember to do it, you’ll be quite wealthy someday.
One word of advice as you use genuine gratitude to increase your personal and organizational success: be specific. Kaplan writes that it is better to point to a specific thing a person did that makes you grateful rather than simply saying, “Thanks for all that you do.”
Regardless of how you show gratitude, it’s in your best interest to clearly, sincerely and publicly be appreciative of those around you.
It’s amazing how much power lies within simple statements…
“I appreciate your business.”
“I appreciate working with you.”
“Thank you for going the extra mile and being so committed to this project.”
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.