Cover image of 5 Languages bookIn keeping with the theme of effectively expressing appreciation for the contributions our people make, I picked up a new book last weekend: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People.

The idea of appreciating people is one that seems to be woven into many of the pieces I have written. Examples include:

Clearly, the idea that appreciating the great value our people bring to work every day resonates with me. The strength of our conservation delivery system is our people so it’s important to do what we can to help them grow and succeed.

I’m not too far into the book but what I see so far looks very good. For example, from page 18:

Why is feeling appreciated so important in a work setting? Because each of us wants to know that what we are doing matters. Without a sense of being valued by supervisors and colleagues, workers start to feel like a machine or a commodity. If no one notices a person’s commitment to doing the job well, that person’s motivation tends to wane over time. Steven Covey, author of the bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, felt so strongly about people’s need for appreciation that he stated: “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”

The theme of the book is stated on page 23: “We believe that people in the workplace need to feel appreciated in order for them to enjoy their job, do their best work, and continue working over the long haul.”

The authors describe five languages of appreciation, and at least one promises to be a bit controversial:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Tangible Gifts
  5. Physical Touch

Sometimes it helps to know where authors are going, so I jumped ahead to page 223 where chapter 17 begins: What if you don’t appreciate your team members? Conclusion:

We have already noted how employees can see through insincere appreciation. In fact, we openly encourage supervisors not to attempt communicating appreciation if they truly do not appreciate the team member. Going through the motions of communicating appreciation when there is not a genuine basis for it will do real harm to the relationship between the supervisor and the team member. It is far better to wait – and deal with the root issues. If the supervisor realizes that the problem is an issue within herself, then she must identify what is keeping her from giving genuine appreciation. On the other hand, if the supervisor concludes that the issue is one of the three external factors that we have discussed, she must provide more training for the employee, seek to establish a regular process of giving corrective feedback to the individual, or directly address the personal issues of the team member.

If that doesn’t sound meaty enough to engage you, the authors note that they take a deeper dive in a book titled The Vibrant Workplace: Overcoming the Obstacles to Building a Culture of Appreciation. That does sound interesting but first I need to get through the 5 Languages book!

Always yours for conservation,

Tom Salzer, WACD Executive Director