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For most people, job satisfaction is inextricably linked to feeling appreciated. Everyone, at some level, wants to know their work and efforts are appreciated. For some, being appreciated means more than money.

It is easy to appreciate work and efforts when the team is doing great. When metrics are green, when times are good, saying thanks is easy. But what about when the team works a 24-hour shift and still misses the delivery due to circumstances beyond their control? What about when your team has done everything right and still “loses”? As a leader, do you still recognize the sacrifice? If you don’t, are you a true leader? I’d argue that you are skirting dangerously close to being yesterday’s news.

Here’s the tricky part. How you show genuine appreciation while holding people (both on and off the direct team) accountable for missing the goal (whatever that may look like in your world) is what separates you from yesterday’s news.

Here are a few thought starters to consider for those times:

  1. What are the goals? Do you have strong goals and an understanding of what it takes to make the goal happen? That is the basis for accountability. Has the team had a chance to digest the goals and make them their own? If not, why not?
  2. Have you, as the leader, taken the time to appreciate the effort in real time. Regardless if success occurs, saying thank you in the moment is where appreciation starts. Good manners never goes out of style.
  3. Pay attention to sacrifices people make for the team. If someone had to juggle child care or some other appointment to stay late — you better not take them for granted. People appreciate when their sacrifices are noticed.
  4. Even if it is someone’s job or responsibility, saying thank you goes a long way in helping people feel the job they are doing is worth something. Like I said earlier, good manners never go out of style.

Appreciation starts by noticing the people reporting to you.  It is accomplished when you treat others as you would like to be treated. Case in point. My husband likes to tell the story of the time he came back from a huge project win at his NASA customer. They’d presented to the top of the house at Johnson Space Center. The Director of the Mission Operations Directorate told them they’d “..contributed to human space flight”. Getting back to his office he ran into the top of his house and told them the great news. In return, he was asked, “Did you bring back any new business? If not, that’s worthless to me.” It wasn’t long after that my husband changed jobs…

As a leader, choose to show appreciation. It means more than you’ll ever know.

Be intentional