by Joseph Flahiff

How IT leaders can engage employees with appreciation

Sep 01, 2015
IT Leadership

Seven out of 10 of your employees are disengaged from the work you want and need them to do.

The problem

From actively disengaged employees to the swiftly disenchanted millennials, getting employees engaged is a critical issue for retention, satisfaction and productivity. What do you do? What can a leader do to affect so many people to reel them back and engage them? Sure there are the traditional ideas: Give away free sodas, have Friday beer events, or take the team bowling, but these ideas take a lot of planning and cost money you don’t have.

There is one thing you can do today that will cost you nothing and will directly address one of the top reasons that people at all levels leave their organizations. From CEOs to janitors, the most common reason that people leave their business is the same; they don’t feel appreciated.  So, appreciate them! But it needs to be honest and specific appreciation. You cannot be general or grudging about it.

But…it can be hard. But…you have a lot of employees. But…they are all doing different things. How can you tell each one of them on a weekly basis something specific and heart-felt that you actually appreciate about them?  Besides, you say, I am just not the kind of person that hands out complements left and right. Verbal acknowledgement is one of the strongest forms of recognition and is completely free. But it can be hard to do.

Well, I have just the trick for you!

The solution: Pay-it-forward appreciation

Try this super simple solution that will make you the most appreciating manager in town (it has an added bonus too):

Step 1: Ask one of your team members, “Can you help me out? Who are two people who have done something this week that you really appreciate?” They will name a couple of people.

Step 2: Go to each of those people, individually. As part of your conversation, maybe as you are leaving, share the appreciation from the other co-worker. “Oh, by the way, Bob said he really appreciated how you handed the recalculation module.”

Step 3: Then ask them the same question, “Can you help me out? Who are two people who have done something this week that you really appreciate?”

It is a positive pyramid of appreciation. This method has subtle benefits.  This type of reinforcement is possibly more powerful than you coming up with something yourself because you are sharing something that someone else said when the other person wasn’t even around. You are able to appreciate everyone on your team with honest and heartfelt appreciation. You didn’t have to make anything up; it is all true, and it is specific. There is also an added benefit that you receive from this method. It builds relationships in two different directions. It builds bonds not just between you and the person you spoke the appreciation to, but it also builds a bond between the person who told you they appreciated someone and the person they identified.

Appreciation won’t change the work. It won’t make hard work easy but it will make it easier to be at work. When we feel appreciated, we want feel inspired and want to work. Now that I think of it, It can actually make hard work seem easier.


When was the last time you deliberately appreciated each one of your staff, any one of your staff?!  There is something called the negativity bias, which says basically, we generally spend more time thinking about negative things than we spend on positive.  So, even if you have appreciated folks you work with it is likely you can appreciate them even more.  It can’t hurt to appreciate more even if you are doing it now.  


Well this whole article is about taking action. Go back and read the steps, then take them. Don’t just read it do it. It is so easy.


Spread the love! Share this idea with other managers and executives in your organization create a culture of appreciation and your workplace will be a better place to be.