The importance of motivating through appreciation

O.A. Battista, a Canadian-American chemist and author, said, “People are always motivated by at least two reasons; the one they tell you about, and a secret one.”

Charles M Schwab, the first president of U.S. Steel Corp., said, “I have yet to find a man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”

While it’s a proven fact that high levels of motivation lead to more effective, efficient, and productive workers, owners and managers sometimes find themselves struggling to find ways to keep the motivational levels needed to reach business goals.

Management studies reveal that 46% of employees that leave a company do so because they feel unappreciated. They report that their bosses don’t place much importance on them as people and many say they do not receive acknowledgement for the work they do. It’s no secret that praise makes people feel good. Positive feedback brings feelings of pride and pleasure, which contributes to creative thinking, problem solving, and increased productivity.

Today, there’s a shortage of critical talent. Many employers have “Now Hiring” signs in their windows and in some cases are offering hiring bonuses. Good prospective employees are being picky about where they work. They’re looking for employers that are known to engage their team members and demonstrate how valuable their employees are to the company.

An article on Forbes.com says, “We’re becoming a culture in which people expect to be rewarded for drawing breath and taking up space, which makes the job of an HR pro or business leader tasked with employee retention a difficult one indeed.” It goes on to say, “Financial reward is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the equivalent of recognition. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a short-term solution. Neither is constant praise of average work. Recognition is a key tool in employee retention programs for a reason: people need more than constructive feedback and positive affirmation. They need recognition of extra effort. They need to ‘feel’ it. This will never go away as a basic human need.”

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In a motivation study by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of The Carrot Principle, 94% of the participants who reported the highest morale at work agreed that their managers were effective at recognizing team members’ efforts and achievements. Fifty-six percent who reported low morale gave their managers a poor rating for recognition. According to the report, managers who offer praise and recognition for a job well done are more respected and admired by their employees. Those employees are also motivated to work harder and go out of their way to help their peers or support the organization.

Jack Canfield in his book, The Success Principles, says, “When you are in a state of appreciation and gratitude you are in a state of abundance. You appreciate what you do have instead of focusing on and complaining about what you don’t have.”

In his book, 1,001 Ways to Motivate Yourself and Others, Sang H. Kim says, “There are two classes of rewards that motivate people to act: intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are the intangible feelings we have that motivate us, like happiness, recognition, fulfillment, love, understanding, peace, and acceptance. Extrinsic rewards are tangible materials that motivate us, including money, awards, promotions, and gifts.” He also tells us that, “Motivation depends upon having an understanding of people and their wants and needs. Your ability to identify and fulfill these fundamental needs is the key to being a successful motivator.”

Another great testimony that recognition and appreciation for motivation are important is Mother Teresa’s words: “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

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