Do your team members seem to be a little short on good humour lately? It's possible that they are feeling undervalued and taken for granted by you and the leadership team.

You know how that feels. You spend hours on a report or work the weekend to meet a special deadline, and there is no acknowledgement of your effort or what it cost you. In fact, you are lucky to be given a thank you at all.

As much as you know that we shouldn't rely on a thank you for doing your job, it's nice to hear it sometimes, isn't it?

What appreciation does to the brain

Research shows that employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 67% more engaged, and 53% report they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss. The feeling of appreciation has a powerful effect on the brain. It causes the release of dopamine inside the brain, the 'feel good' hormone. We learn that we'll feel good if we do a good job and are rewarded with appreciation from our managers and team members. When it feels good, we repeat the activity in order to experience the pleasure again.

What appreciation does to the behaviour

We know that when people feel good about what they are doing, they are less stressed. When they are less stressed, there are fewer health issues and far less absenteeism. In addition, 81% of employees say they're motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.

In terms of the organisation's bottom line, we know that it will save money by not having to recruit new staff, and that engaged employees are 43% more productive. In fact, organisations with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of those who don't.

Isn't it worth saying thanks now and then to achieve that sort of result?

How to model appreciation for the team

As leader, it is up to you to show your teams how to appreciate each other and the best way to do that is by modelling the behaviour you want them to demonstrate. It's up to you to set the pattern and shift the focus to the positive.

Of course you can say 'thank you' and 'well done' but you can do more than that. You can give feedback to people on a job well done. We know that formal and informal feedback which focuses on performance strengths have been linked to a 36% increase in performance. When you show your team that your attention is on the positives, that's where they will place their own attention. They will learn to look for the good things about what they and other team members are doing. The more they see you model this behaviour, the more they will imitate you.

The beauty of it is that once you have the ball rolling, their brains will respond and help you to boost and reinforce the happiness of the team.

Start changing the atmosphere within your organisation by praising the work your team does and thanking them for it. The effort will pay off.

Linda Murray is Business Coach, Executive Coach & Mentor for high performing professional women and was inspirational as one of the speakers at the NSW Women in Credit Luncheon. M: 0405 322 005 www.athenacoaching.com.au

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