Notice and Appreciate

Do you notice the people you work with?

I worked with a team this summer who had just completed a highly successful project. It was so successful, that the company gave each team member a significant cash reward $$$.

You’d think people would be happy, right? As I talked to members of the team, I heard something different. One after another, team members said, in a wistful sort of tone, “Yes, the cash bonus was nice. But I what I really want is for my contribution to be noticed.”

Noticing and appreciating is different from rewarding, evaluating or saying ” Atta boy! Thanks for a job well done.” Noticing and appreciating talks to the person, not the task.

When I work with project teams in a retrospective, I teach them to give appreciations.

I put up a piece of flip chart paper that says “_______________, I appreciate you for _____________.”

Most people are used to saying “good job.” or “thank you,” so this can feel a little awkward at first. One brave person will start and fill in the blanks: “Sara, I appreciate you for being patient with all my questions about the floozle design.”

The other team members see the first one didn’t die, so another will try it: “Jason, I appreciate you for keeping us on topic in all our team meetings. I didn’t like it at first, but after awhile, I realized how much more we accomplished when you didn’t let the dicscussion wander off track.” Pretty soon it catches on!

Noticing and appreciating is a small thing that makes a big difference.


Tom Van Vleck responds: Your blog entry about appreciation hit a chord. When I was managing , years back, I mentioned to another manager that I thought it was important to really care for one’s employees — to manage with love. The other manager snorted and said, “fear works a lot better. I kick butts until they deliver.” (The project was a major failure.) March 5, 2003