Appreciation: The Things We Are Doing Right

My wife came home from work Monday with a big smile spread across her face. I asked her if she had had a good day and she could barely wait to tell me. A guest had tweeted about her great service. My wife works at Disney; she is part-time and one of probably 60 servers that work at this theme park restaurant. The guest had written one line saying it was the best dining experience they had ever had and thanking her personally.

This company never treats praise casually. She came home with handwritten letters from Dan Cockerell, Magic Kingdom’s Vice President, and a few executives had even come to the meeting to thank her personally. My wife is coming up on 15 years with this company, and with actions like this, it’s little surprise that Disney is so capable of retaining good employees.

Focusing on things that need to be changed is essential to the business environment.  We want our people to adapt to better ways and processes in order to become more profitable.  Sometimes in the midst of these processes we forget to endow the appropriate appreciation and attention for a job well done.

Honest appreciation for good work is something people desire.  It gives them a sense of purpose and a drive to continue doing well.  New York Times bestselling author H. Jackson Brown said, “Don’t forget a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.”   When people feel they are appreciated at work, it gives them incentive beyond money or benefits.

It is common to forget the importance of praise in the work place.  Many incentives we set up encourage people to work harder or do better.  Often their wages will be based, to some degree, on that principle.  Because a compliment and approval are free to give, many service managers underestimate their value.

If we focus on what people are doing right, those people will strive harder to receive that appreciation again. Charles Schwab, one of the most successful businessmen in American history said, “There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors.  I never criticize anyone.  I believe in giving a person incentive to work.  So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault.  If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”

Though my wife often receives guest compliments and praise from her company, she wants to frame this particular one.  They went out of their way to make her feel special and they succeeded.  Is there any chance she won’t show up at her next shift eager to work and be her best?

Acknowledgement and gratitude can make all the difference in retaining quality people.   Appreciation even has the power to make employees better because of their desire to be praised.  The value of a supervisor’s kind words can far exceed expectation, so let’s focus on the things we are doing right, and remember to talk about it.

Written by Adam Wright

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