Lisagor: A dash of appreciation

Nothing is more motivating to a person than feeling appreciated

For the past two years, I've written about how managers can become more enlightened and supportive of their staff. Although I will continue to cajole and badger you about what you don't do, my wife suggested that I recognize the many things that managers do well. But before I write about the importance of appreciation in the

workplace, I will express my appreciation for all of you government and industry managers who:

  • Come to work even when you don't feel like it.
  • Do more with less and produce inspiring results.
  • Work hard to achieve a mission even when no when else is looking.
  • Accommodate unfathomable political agendas.
  • Support your sometimes less-than-capable senior managers.
  • Encourage and assist your sometimes-less-than-capable peers and junior staff.
  • Grin and bear it through endless external interviews and audits, with little expectation of positive results.
  • Comply with regulations, requirements, submissions and reports that often have little to do with completing your job.
  • Try to understand what motivates your industry and government partners.

For the past six years, I have worked with many organizations, and not one of them is fully functional. Agencies and companies reflect the strengths and weaknesses of their leaders and have the limitations of other small businesses or large bureaucracies. Any organization can be criticized.

For some of my career, I felt underappreciated. I had supervisors who treated compliments like rare gems to be seldom distributed. This is unfortunate because feeling unappreciated usually makes people withdraw rather than improve their job performance.

When a manager has a conflict with a peer or employee, often all it takes to open the door to a more positive relationship is for either one of them to express appreciation for something about the other person.

Appreciated people are more likely to reflect on their behavior and change it when necessary. The best appreciation comes from the heart without qualifications.

Many people find it difficult to accept compliments. They respond to praise with, "Oh, I didn't do that much," or "It wasn't that good." Try owning your accomplishment. You are worthy of appreciation, and accepting appreciation makes the person expressing it feel good, too.

Showing appreciation is important in all areas of our lives. As my wife likes to remind me, what works at work also works at home. She has been a truly remarkable partner for more than 36 years. I hope she reads that. As for all of you, try expressing appreciation. It can and should become habit-forming.

Lisagor founded Celerity Works in 1999 to help information technology executives accelerate and manage business growth. He lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and can be reached at