Give your team what they need and they will blow your mind with the results they deliver.
William James, the father of psychology, stated that the most fundamental psychological need is to be appreciated. We all want to feel fully appreciated for our work. The payoff for inspiring leaders is that people do more for those who appreciate them. Although leaders widely recognize the need for appreciation, it tends to be a blind spot. That is, they generally believe they are much more appreciative of their teams than their teams think they are. The reason is that we often do not convert our invisible thoughts of appreciation into visible acts of appreciation.
With all of today's technology options, it's easy to find yourself too busy for face-to-face interaction, but that's one of the best ways to charge up your team. Showing appreciation is not a matter of time and intention; rather, it's a matter of priority and action.
Research by former Gallup chairman the late Donald Clifton revealed that work groups with at least a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions were significantly more productive than those having less than a 3-to-1 ratio. In other words, more productive teams had at least three positive interactions for every one negative interaction. Showing your appreciation is certainly a positive interaction and is a simple way to boost your ratio.
Consider tracking your ratio for a week to gauge how well you are appreciating your team. Look for opportunities to acknowledge your team's results and positive progress. This is basic psychology-reinforce those behaviors that you want to see more frequently. Catch them doing something right, and do it often. If you look for ways team members are doing something right, opportunities to reinforce the team will be plentiful. The key is to be sincere and specific. In other words, don't fall into the trap of blurting out the robotic "Good job." Take the time to thoughtfully explain why you appreciated the specific action taken by a team member.
For example, you might say, "Kayla, I really appreciate the way you quickly resolved that customer issue without adding more time or cost to our delivery schedule. That makes a big difference for the company." Demonstrating appreciation for your team members and their efforts can put them on the fast track to inspired performance. There should be plenty of opportunities, since a Harris poll found that 65 percent of the workers reported receiving no recognition for good work in the past year! That's a pretty low bar and sad. So don't worry about recognizing your team too much. In fact, there are no documented studies of any team ever feeling overappreciated!