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Employees were equally clear about the ways in which managers communicated a lack of appreciation for them

Employees were equally clear about the ways in which managers communicated a lack of appreciation for them

1. Expressions of gratitude that are inauthentic or sweeping generalizations. Appreciation needs to be specific and genuine. While employees were enthusiastic about the variety of ways in which gratitude can be expressed, they were not moved by empty or offhanded gestures. There's a big difference between yelling a thank-you on your way out the door versus sitting down with someone to describe the things you value about their work and its positive effect on the team or organization.

Meaningful expressions of appreciation were often described as timely, relevant, and sincere, and expressions that come off as hollow may actually be worse than no thanks at all. Managers also need to tread carefully when recognizing everyone on a team. Sometimes a group's performance is not a reflection of equal contributions from all its members, and you run the risk of alienating high performers if everyone receives the same recognition.

2. Neglecting standard company procedures. Many busy managers feel that procedures like annual reviews, quarterly check-ins, and nominating employees for awards are a waste of time. But to employees, they're important milestones that provide clues about their progress and performance. When a manager skips them, employees often infer that they, not the procedure, are what the manager doesn't value. If you're going to deviate from the organization's rulebook, at the very least you need to be explicit with your employees about why, or they might conclude that your inaction is a statement about them.

Mistakes to Avoid

3. Letting employees feel isolated from coworkers or the larger organization. For managers, it's much easier to see how the contributions of each person fit with the work of others, but employees often lack that insight.