Leading Through Appreciation

Remember the nursery rhyme, “The Farmer in the Dell?”  If you played this game as a child, you know how it went: everyone stood in a circle surrounding one kid in the middle – the “Farmer.”  As a group, you sang out lyrics that instructed the Farmer to pick a Wife, who got to stand in the middle too. Then the Wife picked a Child; then a menagerie of farm animals got chosen; until there was only one kid left out: the “Cheese.”

If you were ever the last one left standing, you remember that sinking feeling of being in the battle ground by yourself.  Lots of games ended with one person on their own, and it was hard sometimes to determine if you were really the winner of the game, or the loser.

Words Have Power

Being a leader of an organization is sometimes like being the “Cheese.” All eyes are on you; it feels like everyone else is on the other side; and somedays it’s hard to determine if you’re winning or losing.

As the Great Resignation continues to show us, a steady paycheck, regardless of its size, isn’t enough to keep employees on your side. They need inspiration, gratitude, and a greater sense of connection to your company’s mission and values. But with a thousand other things on your plate, trying to increase workplace engagement can seem like an impossible dream.  The easier option would be to leave it to chance that your next round of hiring will bring in employees who want to stick around. 

But the random chance is too risky a premise on which to build a company; and workplace engagement doesn’t have to feel insurmountable. One simple way to build and strengthen relationships across your organization is to find out how your employees like to be appreciated.  The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Chapman and White reminds us that there is diversity in how people like to both give and receive appreciation:

  • Words: for those who like to hear or read words that communicate a positive message
  • Acts of service: for those who enjoy the offer of assistance from others 
  • Tangible gifts: for those who value a thoughtful, meaningful item
  • Quality time: for those who enjoy time together in work or non-work-related activities  
  • Physical touch: the language of appropriate spontaneous celebration (e.g., handshake, high 5)

By taking the time to determine which language is most meaningful for each person, you can help staff feel valued and respected as the individuals that they are, not just for the metrics they achieve. You can pave the way forward to a workplace culture where your employees are grounded in a greater sense of belonging that – beyond the paycheck – enforces the notion that your team is a team worth being on.

Your Engaged Assignment: Connect with each of your employees through the art of appreciation. Learn to recognize how each employee best receives appreciation and discover new ways to appreciate them in their own language. Join Engaged’s The Power of Appreciation workshop!