Show Me The Growth – Part 2

6 Keys to growing your team and keeping your employees – a Six-part series

Given the amazingly low unemployment rate of 3.8% nationally, it’s more imperative than ever that you focus on continuing to grow your employees and retain them for as long as you can by providing them with an amazing work experience.

Last week’s post focused on the importance of getting to know your team and how to do that. If you haven’t read that post, I’d encourage you to start there. Click here to read Part 1. Today we will impact Step 2 – Recognizing and Appreciating their contributions.

Here again is our acrostic that we are unpacking. Remember these are highly interrelated and each may take you awhile to master, but if you can master even a few of them I guarantee your business will benefit greatly.

G –  Get to know your team

R –   Recognize and appreciate their Contributions

0 –   Offer to invest in their learning

W –  Welcome their ideas

T –    Train them in new areas

H –   Have meaningful discussions with them.


So, let’s unpack this further:

R –   Recognize and appreciate their contributions

Building on the importance of getting to know your team, the next step is increasing your focus on catching them doing something right. This is so much more powerful than focusing on the negative, or the mistakes. You get what you reinforce, so if you focus on the mistakes, so will your employees. If you focus on what they are doing right, you will get more of that behavior – and isn’t that ultimately what you really want!

Everyone likes to be recognized for their contributions. Now the challenge is with this generation they grew up with participation trophies. You got recognized for just showing up. I want to be clear that is NOT what I’m talking about. I’m talking about unlocking greater performance through an increased focus on seeing and calling out what is working well.

The difference between recognition and appreciation

Let’s set the foundation by looking at terms. Mike Robbins, author of The Power of Appreciation, illustrates in his book two powerful forces at work to increase employee performance. The first, Recognition, is what we always think of…it’s our go-to. But recognition is solely based off results – positive results. Robbins cites a Stanford University study where researches looked at the power of recognition vs. appreciation and the impact on employees. The study showed that recognition increases performance 23%. That’s not bad, but there is an even stronger force at work in the world – Appreciation.

Appreciation brings a positive focus to the EFFORTS and the CHARACTERISTICS that lead to performance and according author Mike Robbins, that same Stanford study showed that appreciation increases performance 43% – that’s 20% more than recognition alone. Imagine if you did both!

Appreciation is powerful and when done well will INCREASE results and loyalty and the positivity in the workplace. Recognition will always have its place, but a little more attention to the small things will make a huge difference.

You get what you focus on

Secondly, let’ address the primary mechanism people are using today with employees – feedback. Feedback is not in itself inherently bad, but it is failing in many ways to do exactly what we’ve been talking about Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall wrote an amazing article in the March/April 2019 Harvard Business Review called The Feedback Fallacy. It is an assault to all of those who think feedback is a gift because often it is thrown around more like a grenade. Most feedback focuses on the negative and trains people to focus on the negative. But Buckingham and Goodall surmise that one of the greatest things a leader can do is “interrupt to catch your employees doing something good.” That means we must be looking for it. You see what you are focused on.  Appreciation helps you focus on seeing what your employees are doing that leads to results worthy of recognition. Perhaps they are taking increased risks, or making bolder decisions, or maybe they are serving as that “go to” person for your new employee answering all their questions or training them in how you do things.

The bottom line:

It’s important that you take time to recognize AND appreciate the contributions of your team unless you don’t want them increasing their performance. It’s a small thing, but it requires attention and focus. For more on this topic, check out Mike Robbin’s Talk here.

Look for next week’s post as we look at Offering to invest in their learning. There will be a return on that investment!


Info about the author:

Ellie Gates is a Chief Result Officer with Lone Star Business Coaching in Waxahachie, Texas. Ellie works with business owners to help them build better businesses that are less owner dependent with a greater certainty of success; structuring their business to be a more profitable venture that works, without them. For more information or help around this article, feel free to reach out to Ellie at [email protected].


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