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Valuing and Appreciating your employees

Updated: Mar 8, 2018

In the final installment of this series, I will look at valuing and appreciating employees through the lens of Servant Leadership. As a manager, this topic has developed a new meaning for me. As an employee, I found it easy to look upwards and say what should be done when it comes to valuing and appreciating me and my co-workers. However, now that I am in the managers role, I find it difficult to understand what actions I can take to show my team that I value and appreciate the work they do for our team and organization.

According to Russell (2001), "servant leaders visibly appreciate, value, encourage, and care for their constituents" (p. 79). Dennis (2004) further describes this by noting that the love of servant leaders includes truly caring about team members as people, making them feel important and being genuinely interested in their lives. Laub (1999) continues by stating that servant leaders need to build up others through encouragement and affirmation. So, from these three perspectives, as a servant leader, I should be:

  • focusing on visibly showing appreciation,

  • taking a genuine interest in their lives, and

  • I should work on building up my team through encouragement and affirmation.

I can confidently say these three guidelines will prove to be effective for you if you give them the time and commitment they need. However, if we expand our view and look at this from the organizational lens, how does that change?

I had someone ask me a question that is all too familiar across many organizations: "How am I supposed to feel like a valued and appreciated employee of this company when I can't even get a raise and when I am told our team is losing staff due to budget cuts? Oh, and my workload is still increasing!"

Here's how I answered: That's a good question and one that is very real to many people. While I agree that it can be hard to see any positive in the current situation, I go back to the notion of choice. We have a choice in how we respond to the experiences around us. Looking at the current situation, it would be easy to move forward with a 'doom and gloom' vision. However, I ask what choices you have in the matter. Additionally, if you were provided a raise and more people were hired around you, would that make you feel valued and appreciated? I am guessing there are more components that go into making anyone feel like they are a valued employee. In regards to your thought process, can I control how you think and feel? (NO!), but can I influence how you think and feel? (I would argue yes). When teams are dealing with situations like this, I feel this is the perfect time for the leader and the team to 'rally the troops' and deal with the concerns head on. If you aren't feeling valued and appreciated, why not? Identify those reasons. Then, tell me what would make you feel valued and appreciated. From there, you can have an honest discussion about any changes that might be able to occur so you can feel more valued. Finally, can you control the lack of a raise and the lay-off's? No, we can't control it. So, use that knowledge to shape how you handle the situation. Does it stink? Yup! However, if I don't have control over the decision that was made, then I need to acknowledge that and start thinking of ways that I can work with this new reality.

Ultimately, this is not the first time this organization has dealt with no raises and lay-off's and it won't be the last. So, knowing this, how do you want to move forward? I would encourage you leverage your team to develop a solution driven plan. Truth is, if you are feeling this way, I can almost guarantee that others on your team and feeling it as well.

Whether or not this was the answer this person was seeking, I'm not sure. However, I feel it is a worthwhile discussion to have with our co-workers and teams when we are experiencing any type of change within the organization (or team for that matter).

To recap, one of the beneficial qualities a servant leader can have is that of valuing and appreciating those we interact with. Remember, taking a few seconds to say hi, check in regarding the weekend, or asking about someone's family can make all of the difference.

Additionally, taking the time to genuinely thank someone for the contributions they bring to the team will do amazing things for the effectiveness of that team.

With that, I will wrap up this series with one of my favorite videos:

Irving, J. A., & Longbotham, G. J. (2007). Team Effectiveness and Six Essential Servant Leadership Themes: A Regression Model Based on Items in the Organizational Leadership AssessmentInternational Journal of Leadership Studies, 2(2), 98-113.

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