My recent posts on appreciation prompted Dale Emery to write about his experiences with appreciation.

I offered people an opportunity to express appreciation to their colleagues for things they had done.

The people in the room—hardcore geeks all—had no trouble offering appreciations to each other. They offered dozens. And my impression was that about half of the appreciations were about code reviews. “John, I appreciate that you found that null pointer bug in my code.”

Joe noticed, over the next few weeks, that people were more eager to review each other’s code, and more eager to express appreciation to each other in the moment.

This matches my experience. Create the space and make an ivitiation (rather than a requirement) for people to offer appreciation. Surprising things will happen.

Paul Leclerc comments about his bosses (hamfisted) attempt at showing appreciation by handing out movie tickets and gift certificates.

I want to make a distinction between rewards and appreciations.

A reward can be a verbal statement –“good job” or “atta boy” — or a physical or monetary token. Rewards focus on an event, action, or achievement, rather than person. Rewards are usually given to reinforce and increase the frequency of certain actions and behaviors. The word that comes to mind for me is manipulation.

An appreciation is a verbal statment made person to person: “I appreciate you.” It’s freely given and even when the appreciation is prompted by an event or action, it’s for the person. When I give an appreciation, I’m not trying to get someone to behave a certain way. I’m telling them that I value them.

Alfie Kohn has written extensively on how rewards actually reduce productivity and morale.