Solution Saturday: I Don’t Get No Appreciation
I’m coaching a business owner who wants more gratitude from his employees. He works really hard and feels that his employees should show him appreciation for his hard work to build the business.
I told him you have to give gratitude to get it. He says he does, publicly. What would you say to a young leader who expects gratitude from his employees and isn’t getting it. This person also loves public recognition and seeks out awards regularly.
Coach to Entrepreneurs
Your email reminds me of Rodney Dangerfield’s best known comedy line, “I don’t get no respect.” (November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004)
Appreciation transforms drudgery into commitment.
Five coaching questions:
Here’s a coaching approach that may help your client find a bit of clarity about himself. Take your time with this conversation. Come at it from several angles. Let go of your own expectations.
- If the people around you were showing enough respect, what would they be doing?
- Be specific.
- Describe behaviors, not attitudes.
- Generate a long list. Keep asking, “What else?”
- If people were doing these things, how would you feel about them?
- If people were doing these things, how would you feel about yourself? How might you be different?
- With our conversation in mind, what are you learning about yourself?
- What behaviors will move you in the direction you’d like to go?
Seven suggests for coaching “unappreciated”:
- Too much ego blinds people. You might work on emotional intelligence.
- Ego helps us understand the needs others may have. It’s important, however, to realize that others may enjoy different forms of recognition.
- Show respect by giving credit. Your client may cancel the power of recognition, if he takes credit for his team’s work.
- Receive recognition gracefully. What does your client do when he’s recognized? Enjoy recognition with gratitude to others.
- Think of humility as a practice. Identify, develop, practice, and exemplify humble behaviors.
- Find someone to brag with. Once a month have dinner with a friend and brag about your achievements to each other. (Thanks to Jon Acuff for this suggestion.) Be the leader others brag to.
- Big egos listen to themselves.
The benefits of feeling appreciated include grit, courage, commitment, and energy – as long as you appreciate hard work and not simply achievements.
What suggestions might you offer for “Coach to Entrepreneurs”?
**I relax my 300 word limit on Solution Saturdays.
Isn’t there a legendary proverb that says if we pursue these things they elude us, but if we wait patiently (and focus on primary function) these things come our way..comparing recognition to a metaphoric Butterfly
Thanks Ken. I’m looking for a metaphoric butterfly. 🙂 It’s a real challenge to wait for things to come to us. Hat’s off for your insight.
I suspect that his search for appreciation from his team is masking a different need. As a coach I would explore in depth with this young leader what he really appreciates about himself? Seeking external recognition is often a sign of a lack of self esteem/ confidence. What’s preventing him from truly appreciating himself? Having done quite a bit of coaching around family systems, it could be that there’s an unmet need for appreciation from a parent. He could perhaps be encouraged to write an ‘appreciation’ journal every day in which he writes the positive things he’s noticed about both himself and others that day – building the muscle of appreciation, and then as others suggest perhaps find different ways to express his appreciation of others.
Wow I’m not going to lie – this young leader’s desire for appreciation seems very odd to me. As a young leader myself, this sounds somewhat juvenile to me, selfish almost. I guess it depends on where you values fall though. Being the leader can be somewhat lonely – but seeking recognition is not something I have time for or want to spare the time for. I get great satisfaction from putting things/people in place and watching them work/exceed/do well. Seeking thanks is not the reason I get up early each day, read, pray, and do all I can to make the right decisions to propel my people forward. I think much about being a good leader is becoming less so others can do more. Very odd post – I think this young leader has quite a bit to learn!
Thanks LK. I hear you. In a perfect world, leaders are humble and selfless. But, many leaders have big egos. It’s one of the reasons they succeed. In my experience, this leader’s desire for appreciation is more common than people might think. You don’t see more of it, because successful leaders are already receiving lots of recognition.
Personally, it took me way too long to learn to focus more on others than myself. One reason it took so long is because of over-confidence. All I really wanted was appreciation for my “brilliance.” (Sad but true.)
Perfect suggested approach – as we regular readers have come to expect. The client sure seems to have not only a need for praising feedback but also an expected form for it. As you suggest, the greatest praise comes in the form of the team making contributions to the team mission. But if the client is oblivious to those contributions, wow…
The biggest alarm for me was the client’s effort to get awards!!!
Thanks John. I find that taking time to explore both the expectation and the form helps people see themselves. Sometimes we’re surprised when we realize what we expect. Sometimes our expectations, when exposed, are unrealistic.
Thanks for your kind words. It means a lot. I’ll take a good affirmation before a kick in the pants any day.
I couldn’t help wondering,while reading how recognized or appreciated the employees feel. Perhaps he might do unto his employees as he so wishes they would do u to him- I suspect he might be pleasantly surprised!
Thanks Lori. Good call.
Have a great weekend!
This reminds me of Dr. Gary Chapman’s “the 5 Love Languages”. As a trainer to leaders and future leaders I couldn’t help but to compare some of the languages that should be used in marriages to their parallel professional versions of the languages for leaders.
Thanks Shop. If I understand, I think you’re suggesting that gratitude should be given in a way that makes sense to the recipient. Introverts may not enjoy public acknowledgement, for example.
This appears to be a straight forward matter of professional maturity, experience and mostly expectation; a demon of the worst kind for many.
Who doesn’t need to be recognized & appreciated? We all do, in fact it is the top motivator several levels above money. As CEO and a sales focused competitor at heart; I love the hunt, I love the trophies. This is a perfectly motivational desire for many people…..as long as it is framed properly.
Help him understand that as a person rises in a leadership role, they can become deaf to the chorus of Thank Yous all around them because it doesn’t come in verbal form; it comes from the success and development of the people around them, their confidence, their growth and the overall results of the function being lead.
It’s in the halls and walls, on people’s faces, and in their actions. Every day that they deliver on time, drive that much harder, pitch in, team up to get an important project done (particularly if you see a spirit of whistle while you work), people are showing that they trust and appreciate the person they work for and with.
This can be summed up in a quote that Ronald Reagan had on his desk:
“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”
Help your client learn to enjoy the indirect appreciation over the direct (hint: it is FAR more valuable and harder to get) .
Thanks Brad. Love the quote on Reagan’s plaque.
I think maturity is part of the issue. Dealing with the immaturity in ways that move the ball forward is the bigger challenge.
Thanks for such a thoughtful comment.
Dan, I had a wise person give me this perspective in a similar conversation. When Jesus cured 10 lepers only 1 turned around to say thank you. Should any of us ever think we deserve more gratitude than Jesus?
Thanks Paul. If anything, your comment is a reminder to spend more time showing gratitude.
I used to be similar until I asked myself “if I never received a ‘thanks’ would I still do this?” It took me about two weeks to honestly answer myself and ultimately, the answer was “yes”. Knowing in myself has made all the difference and I receive more recognition now than I ever did. People realize when you do something for the right reasons, not just to fulfill an insecurity.
Thanks Teri. I love where you took this. Your comment reveals a very useful path of self-reflection for this leader. If he’s fortunate, he may connect with his inner values and purpose in a stronger and clearer fashion.
In a fairly new leadership position, I have so appreciated your wisdom, Dan, in helping me to celebrate the victories. These are not the limelights and the praises (though I do like those too 😉 ), but the victories come in knowing that something good is happening because I was able to empower OTHERS to make good decisions, to assemble teams of really great people to take steps that are much more meaningful when collaboratively developed than if I just dictated. The credit doesn’t always come back to me – does it need to? I am learning to take the greatest pleasure in seeing others running with fantastic ideas and making progress toward goals; I hear their gratitude in their appreciation for the opportunity to do so.
Perhaps this client could start to hear appreciation in unexpected ways (going back to the coaching questions above)?
Thank you Dan for all you have contributed to my changing mindset; thank you Brad for the awesome Ronald Reagan quote. And I’ll add what Jim Donovan said to Francis Gary Powers in “Bridge of Spies” – “It doesn’t matter what others think. You know what you did.”
… and not that it doesn’t matter what they THINK, per se… but whether or not they are expressing it to you at all was where I was heading 😉
Yes to the enriching and liberating effects of recognizing the many subtle forms gratitude might be expressed
It will also help the young leader shift his filter from a getting to giving – from serving self to serving others- this shift can lead to game changing transformation for the leader and the well-being and success of his team
An interesting post. A “thank you” is nice to receive but if we expect or anticipate it each and every time, we may be disappointed. My best “rewards” as a leader in a team-oriented mission or goal were most often achieved as merely a sense of accomplishment in succeeding as a team without always receiving verbal acknowledgement. A “thumps up”or confident smile with a slight head nod may serve as that gratitude. The “verbal thank you” is the icing on the cake – the cake tastes good without it, but it does tastes a little better with it on it. Thanks, Dan.
Do you have any thoughts to the work environment when there is no gratitude present from the hierarchy above? Besides modeling it yourself, how do you shift the people around you?
Dan, interesting views, I see a 2 way street to give and receive appreciation from workers and too workers needs to come from all parties involved with the process. Working hard is part of growth, perhaps in time gratitude will follow.
Hi Dan – first, thanks for everything you do here. You are a true leader.
Here’s my two cents:
There are many benefits to being an entrepreneur, but getting praise from your team is not one of them.
I completely understand the need to model gratitude for your team, but if you need it in return in order to feel fulfilled, it’s probably time to find a new career.
Validation and appreciation can be hard to distinguish as a new leader. I think engaged new leaders are still looking for the validation that they are doing the right thing. It is especially more prevalent when the support is not coming from the leader of the new manager. Sadly, we pick leaders from assessing the current work and then promote them with little leadership training. So, in some cases team validation is what they have in the form of appreciation.
I’m not a leader, and definitely far from it. I came from a work environment that was horrible. Not only did they withhold compliments, they pitted us together, to compete against one another. It didn’t matter if the end result was accomplished at the end of the day, it was who did the most. No matter if each person had their strong points, and could contribute in their own way to getting the job done. To get raises, and basically stay in good graces, you had to compete and play an underhanded game. In addition to this, compliments were never given out. In one instance, one of my friend-coworkers (who I refused to compete with), caught an error that another department made, and saved the company approximately $10,000. When we had our group meeting, I asked my supervisor, if he was going to tell everyone about my coworker’s catch. He said no, she was just doing her job, and should always be trying to catch errors.
I am no longer with that company. I work with a great group, and we work together to reach a common goal. There is no backstabbing, we receive positive comments often from our boss, and higher-ups. I am constantly surprised at how good that I have it at this job, and how well they treat me. I still have nightmares from where I came from. I have been here for a year-and-a-half. I have always felt that people should treat others the way that they wish to be treated. I feel that this is finally happening. I know that I have gone off track, but I think that people really should consider their management style, and also how they treat others. It does really impact people and their performance. I am thriving here. Thanks for listening.