Take a moment and think about the people in your life that you trust. You're probably imagining your spouse or maybe your parents.
So, how far down the list do you have to go on the trust graph before you come to people you don't even know? Surprisingly, according to a recent survey, total strangers don't actually sit on the bottom rung of your trust-ladder; your boss does.
When you think about it, this isn't actually all that strange. After all, doesn't it sometimes feel like you and your bosses are on opposite sides of an ongoing battle?
Your Management Style
This begs the question: Does your management inspire employees with confidence? There's no misunderstanding it; the issue of trust is a problem in the workplace, and where trust is lacking, employee engagement is never very high.
However, there are paths to boosting engagement that don't involve forcing people to fall backward into your arms. One of the most effective ways is appreciation.
The Appreciation Hypothetical
You work for a boss whom you like well enough; you do your work, but you keep an eye open for a better opportunity somewhere else. And maybe sometimes when you're feeling tired, you prop your arms up on the desk, rest your chin in your palms, and take a quick nap in front of your computer.
Then, one day at your desk, slowly drudging your way through some project or another, your boss drops by. To your surprise, he tells you that he's really impressed with the way you accomplished your last assignment, and he wants to let you know how important you are to the company. He gives you a gift card to a nice restaurant and tells you to keep up the good work.
Now, how likely are you to take a nap today?
Showing Appreciation in Your Workplace
In a study conducted by Tower's Watson, it was concluded that when good work is appreciated and recognized, especially on the level of work groups or departments, increased employee engagement is sure to follow.
- Treat your employee like a person, and not just as a resource to be used. That may seem obvious, but it's advice that many employers need to take to heart.
- Remember to mind your P's and Q's. Yes, you're in charge. And yes, to a certain extent, the employees have to do what you say. But that doesn't mean that you don't have to say "please" or "thank you."
- Give them what they really want, like paid time off (for good behavior), monetary bonuses, or regular company parties (but be careful not to make party-attendance mandatory; certain personality types are uncomfortable in relaxed social situations.)
- If you can, provide free snacks in the break room, and don't skimp on heating\cooling costs. Employees that are uncomfortable or hungry may still work, but it's a good bet that they won't work very well.
- Ask yourself, "How would I want to be recognized and rewarded if I were an employee here?" Be creative, and keep track of what does and does not seem to work.
Naturally, individual employees will respond better to different acknowledgement techniques. But as long as you're making a genuine effort, your workers will appreciate the attempt.
Appreciation has a way of motivating employees even when the trust just isn't there. Humanity is funny; we crave validation for ourselves and our work, even from those we might not actually respect.
So when employees receive a pat on the back or some other form of positive recognition, it whets their appetite for more of the same. It doesn't take much to let them know that they're important and valued, and the returns you'll receive will make everyone happy.
Bio: Jacob Kache works as a consultant for O.C. Tanner, a company dedicated to developing employee recognition and rewards programs that help companies appreciate people who do great work.