3 Ways to Fill the “Feeling Valued” Void

For many workers there’s a growing gap where “feeling valued” should be.

In a recent study* 31% stated “Treatment by their employer, including praise and a sense of being valued” as the single thing that would motivate us to do more.

But what if we can boost being valued? Here are 3 simple strategies:

1. Appreciating Properly – with a Thank You

Simply taking time to say a clear “Thank you” or, even better, “Thank you for doing..” usually generates – and sets off a cycle of – goodwill. Especially as many only receive a rapid “Thanks”.

When I’m speaking at a conference or event, sometimes I’ll ask the audience how often they – as individuals – have been properly thanked (with a meaningful “thank you” and not a rushed, barely courteous “thanks”) in the past working week. Often it’s so rare it’s shocking.

Being the rapport-building beings we are, we imitate language and behaviours to build relationships and to fit in. Plus we have a strong sense of payback.

When we emphasise our gratitude then before we know it, a reciprocal habit has infectiously formed and we’re receiving thank you’s in return.

2. Planting the Seed – of Appreciation

Maybe we should “help” others to see when to appreciate us – even before they might see it for themselves?

A shameless local government customer service team used to consider “Well, what do you expect?” an acceptable contribution to a customer conversation. Recently I was stunned by their fresh approach:

Now, every single time a customer says “thank you” or utters anything encouraging, such as saying “great” and “that would be good”, they reply with “you’re welcome”

After explaining their intention (e.g. put me on hold, put me through, email to their colleague or look up information) they then affirm my well-mannered “thanks” with “you’re welcome.” This reminds me that I thanked them, suggests that they deserve it and my goodwill heightens… when they have yet to truly deliver!

Even outside of customer service, “You’re welcome” achieves acknowledgement easily. It beats the (especially British) humble and mediocre response of “That’s OK!” in a tone suggesting “It’s nothing..I didn’t have anything else to do..so please don’t be grateful!”

Other ways to prompt our own work to be viewed positively, prior to receiving specific compliments or praise, include:

  • “It works well”
  • “Those figures stack up nicely”
  • “A good end result”
  • “I’m pleased/proud to say..”

Pointing out our achievements can instigate appreciation (be it compliment, praise or thanks) by planting the seed, rather than us waiting for it to happen.

3. Stating Super Service

Some customer service teams point out plainly what they’re doing  e.g. “Just to confirm what I’m going to do for you is..”  Borrowing this for our third feeling-valued plan strategy, here are 3 ways the same principle can apply in varied roles:

  • Sally’s sends out a report. In her email to each department head, she adds “you will find in section C the summary pertinent to your department as I promised.”
  • David’s beaten a deadline. He adds “The extra push paid off so I’m pleased to provide this project summary a day ahead of schedule for you” when he sends it.
  • When Nigel takes responsibility for a task from a meeting he says “I’ll do that for you,” following up with a call/email confirming the task, deadline and expectations.

The “in bold” bits make these less “process” but more personal and commendable. Their contributions are conspicuous yet subtle. Whether it’s to the boss, customers or colleagues, we’re still providing a service.

Sometimes we need to kickstart a culture of commendation.

At a “Productivity and Making the Most of Your Time” workshop recently, a participant expressed frustration at never completing a job because the nature of the work is fluid. This is typical in today’s workplace.

Not only do we need to break tasks down into mini triumphs for ourselves, but we must highlight them to others to feel valued. It’s worth remembering that milestones need a mention.

By thoroughly thanking, planting seeds for appreciation, and stating super service we can try to fill the gap of feeling undervalued. Humility has its place but to be valued sometimes we have to stop hiding behind being humble. We need to grasp any available gratitude, to affirm before being asked and to broadcast our best.

What do you think?

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*The institute of Leadership and Management – Beyond the Bonus: Driving employee performance

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3 thoughts on “3 Ways to Fill the “Feeling Valued” Void”

  1. I’ve had a few conversations broadly about this issue recently. I think in some cases the manager (it usually is the manager) is reluctant to give thanks or recognition to a person for fear of a poor reaction from others not on the end of such positive messages. Fairness and Equality is somehow mixed up with treating everyone the same perhaps? EG lets not recognise someone publicly, what will the others think? Subjectively (very probably) one wonders whether some of this is about our natural british reserve, if it exists. Anyway….well done, good job, excellent 😉

  2. Great points, Peter. You’ve highlighted a suppressing confusion in our day-to-day, similar perhaps to ‘Political Correctness gone mad.’ Sometimes we’re not sure how to do the right thing so we do nothing at all.
    Thanks for your input!

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