How to Empower Your Organization by Encouraging People
- Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Gary Chapman and Paul White's book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People (Northfield Publishing, 2012).
One of the best ways to improve your organization’s success is to show your appreciation for its people. When the people you work with feel appreciated, they’ll respond with loyalty and hard work, so your organization can retain its best employees and benefit from their contributions.
So it’s crucial to encourage people in your workplace by regularly expressing your appreciation to them. But some ways of communicating appreciation will fall flat with some people, while others will be effective. It all depends on what “languages of appreciation” your colleagues speak. Here’s how you can strengthen your organization by encouraging your colleagues through appreciation:
Recognize the benefits of showing your appreciation in the workplace. Appreciation benefits your organization by increasing both productivity and employee retention, and it benefits the people you work with by improving their morale. The top factor in employee job satisfaction isn’t how much money people are paid, but how appreciated they feel for their efforts at work. The more you encourage your colleagues by appreciating them, the more likely they are to work hard, and the more likely your entire organization is to succeed.
Give words of affirmation. People who speak this language feel appreciated by words that affirm something positive about them. You can either praise them for a specific accomplishment, affirm a personality trait you appreciate about them (such as how optimistic they are, or how well they plan) or affirm a character trait of theirs that you appreciate (such as perseverance, courage, humility, self-discipline, compassion, integrity, patience, or kindness). If you want to verbally speak words of affirmation, you can do so either in private, one-on-one conversations with the people you want to encourage, or in public, such as during meetings. Another way to communicate affirming words is through writing, such as in a emails, texts, or handwritten notes.
Give quality time. People who speak this language feel appreciated by focused attention. One of the ways you can give people quality time is by intentionally engaging in empathetic conversations with them, sharing your thoughts, feelings, and desires with each other in a friendly, uninterrupted context. Another way is to share experiences together, such as by going out to eat together and attending work conferences or after-work special events (such as sports games or concerts) together. You can also give people quality time through small group dialogue, in which you ask employees to share their ideas and suggestions for how to improve your workplace. Yet another way to give quality time is by working n close physical proximity with coworkers while accomplishing a project.
Give acts of service. People who speak this language feel appreciated when others serve them. You can serve your colleagues by helping them with specific tasks that they feel will ease their workload, whenever doing so is appropriate. If you choose to help a coworker with a task, make sure that the coworker welcomes your help, and that you complete the task the way he or she wants the task to be done.
Give tangible gifts. People who speak this language feel appreciated by receiving gifts. Aim to give the kind of gifts that would be personally meaningful to each person you want to encourage. In order to do so, you have to get to know what items and experiences the people who work with you value the most. You can get that information through a workplace survey, or simply by asking questions in your everyday conversations with colleagues. Keep in mind, too, that you don’t necessarily need to spend money on the gifts you give to people in your workplace, You can choose to give them some time off work (from some extra vacation days to the privilege of leaving work a few hours early one day), which they will likely appreciate as much as they would appreciate gift cards, tickets to events, or any other type of gift you can buy with money.
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