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Communicating appreciation: How leaders can make employees feel valued


Communicating appreciation: How leaders can make employees feel valued

Effective leadership entails fostering an environment where every employee feels valued and appreciated. When employees feel recognised, they are more engaged, motivated, and committed to contributing their best efforts to the organisation.

 

But how can leaders ensure they communicate appreciation authentically, so their team members feel genuinely valued?

 

1.     Recognition and acknowledgment

 

Acknowledging employee efforts demonstrates that their work is noticed and appreciated, boosting morale, and fostering a positive work culture. Studies have also shown that recognised employees are more likely to go above and beyond in their job description, leading to increased productivity and performance and those who receive regular recognition are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs and committed to their organisations.

 

Publicly acknowledging employees' contributions, whether it's a simple "thank you" in a team meeting or a formal recognition, goes a long way in making them feel valued. But recognition should be timely, occurring close to the event or achievement being acknowledged, as delayed recognition may diminish its impact and relevance. To make recognition meaningful, it is important to be specific about what actions or behaviours are being recognised and how they contribute to the organisation's goals. Authenticity is key as employees can discern insincere praise, so leaders need to ensure that acknowledgments are genuine and heartfelt.

 

2.     Open communication and feedback

 

Feedback is the fuel that drives personal and professional growth. It provides individuals with valuable insights into their strengths, areas for improvement, and opportunities for development. However, it is not a one-time event but an ongoing dialogue that drives continuous improvement. By fostering a culture where feedback is encouraged and valued, organisations can create an environment where individuals are motivated to seek out opportunities for growth.

 

Leaders set the tone for communication and feedback within an organisation and by modelling open communication, actively seeking feedback, and responding constructively to input, they demonstrate the value of transparency and continuous improvement. Encouraging open dialogue by creating safe spaces where employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal, whether through regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, or anonymous feedback channels, can make a real difference to how employees feel about their work. To make employees feel valued, leaders need to demonstrate a commitment to listening and responding to employee input by implementing changes based on feedback received.

 

3.     Empowerment and trust


Empowering employees by entrusting them with meaningful responsibilities and decision-making authority not only demonstrates trust but also communicates their value to the organisation. When employees are empowered to think critically, experiment, and challenge the status quo, they become catalysts for innovation and creativity. Empowerment encourages individuals to voice their ideas, share their perspectives, and contribute to problem-solving and decision-making processes. Trust also empowers leaders to delegate authority and decision-making responsibility to their teams confidently. When employees trust their leaders to support and guide them, they feel empowered to make decisions autonomously and take ownership of their actions.

 

Leaders can demonstrate trust in employees by leading with integrity, empathy, and transparency, modelling the behaviour they wish to see in others, and cultivating a culture where trust and empowerment are embraced at all levels of the organisation. By trusting employees to make decisions and take initiative in their roles, and delegating authority gradually, providing support and guidance as needed, leaders can cultivate a culture of empowerment and trust in the workplace.

 

4.     Investment in growth and development

 

Providing opportunities for professional growth and development shows employees that their long-term success is important to the organisation. Whether through training programmes, mentorship opportunities, or career advancement pathways, investing in employees' growth demonstrates a commitment to their success and reinforces their value to the organisation. Employees who receive regular training and development opportunities are better equipped to perform their roles effectively. By expanding their skill sets, knowledge, and competencies, individuals can contribute more meaningfully to organisational goals and drive higher levels of productivity.

 

Leaders who recognise that each employee has unique skills, interests, and career aspirations, and provide personalised development plans that align with individuals' goals and aspirations, offering opportunities for growth and advancement tailored to their needs are setting a strong foundation for a culture of ongoing learning. Paired with opportunities for employees to share their knowledge, skills, and experiences with their colleagues, leaders can encourage collaboration and teamwork through cross-functional projects, peer-to-peer learning, and communities of practice.

 

5.     Work-life balance support

Recognising the importance of work-life balance and supporting employees in achieving it sends a powerful message of care and appreciation. Employees who have a healthy work-life balance are more likely to be focused, motivated, and productive. By avoiding burnout and fatigue, they can maintain high levels of performance and make meaningful contributions.

 

Flexible work arrangements and policies that promote a healthy work-life balance demonstrate that the organisation values employees' well-being, both inside and outside the workplace.  Leaders who establish clear expectations regarding work hours, availability, and communication outside of regular business hours encourage employees to set boundaries and disconnect from work when off the clock. It is equally important for leaders to encourage employees to take regular breaks, vacations, and time off to recharge and rejuvenate. Leaders can walk the talk by taking time off themselves and encouraging a culture where time off is respected and valued.

 

Feeling valued is a fundamental human need that extends beyond monetary compensation or a job title. When employees feel valued by their leaders, they experience a sense of validation, respect, and belonging. By prioritising and expressing appreciation, recognition, and respect, leaders can create a culture where every employee feels valued and empowered to contribute their best. At Acumen we are dedicated to equipping leaders with practical tools to tackle real-life challenges. Our comprehensive range of training and development programs, including customised interventions and off-the-shelf courses, helps organisations foster a culture of respect and empower their employees. To learn more about our programs and how they can benefit your organisation, please contact Simon at simon@askacumen.com.

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