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Feeling valued in the workplace


In my last newsletter, I wrote about workplace culture and the central role it plays in workplace engagement and joy. I described the components of culture:

  • voice and psychological safety

  • leadership

  • being valued and appreciated

  • community and collegiality

  • equity and fairness

  • communication

  • being invested in and developed

  • values alignment and meaning

  • cultural compassion

In this newsletter, I am focusing on one particular component of culture: being valued and appreciated. It matters because feeling valued, seen and appreciated contribute to engagement and performance at work. Equally important, depending on the data source, not feeling valued is the reason 2 out of 3 people leave their jobs of their own accord. In my experience as a coach, not feeling valued is the most common reason that people seek my services. While they might say they feel burned out, they want a more sustainable work life, or they're exhausted and need something else, I have found the common thread is they do not feel seen for who they are or valued for what they bring or do in their work. In more than eight years of coaching, I have yet to work with someone who loves their boss, workplace and colleagues but wants more interesting work. The converse is most often true: the work is interesting, meaningful, and/or engaging, but no matter how hard they work, no one seems to notice or care. They don't feel respected and they lack input on things that impact their work. (Could any of these themes be fueling the Great Resignation?) We all need to be valued for who we are and what we bring to our work, no matter what our role is. The lack of being seen, valued, or appreciated fuels exhaustion, discontent, and low morale. What does it look and feel like to feel valued at work? Imagine the last time you felt valued at work. What was the situation, and what happened to help you feel like you mattered? Feeling valued looks different for different people. For some of us, it is being thanked, or having our work noticed and, privately or publicly, appreciated. For others, it can be feeling invested in, or having a boss or colleagues actively nurturing our growth and development. Still others feel valued when their voice is truly heard, acknowledged, and incorporated in decision-making. When a leader or colleague supports us during especially difficult times with concern and attention, needed resources, and even needed time off, it adds to one's self-worth. While I don't equate feeling valued and feeling appreciated as the same thing, appreciation helps some people feel valued in the workplace. It is amazing how effective authentic appreciation is for many of us, and yet how infrequently it is expressed. Various human resources groups have surveyed this and one example is a Gallup poll in which 65% of people surveyed had received no recognition for good work in their workplace. Appreciation positively impacts both the recipient and the giver yet it is done far too infrequently in many workplaces. To be effective and maximize the benefit in showing appreciation, it needs to be genuine, personal, and specific. A tool for expressing appreciation I especially like comes from the Center for Creative Leadership and is called Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI)TM. While the tool was developed to help explore intent versus impact, it is also very effective for showing appreciation. Here's how it works: S - Situation: Describe the situation and be specific about when and what occurred (factual without commentary) B - Behavior: Describe the observable behavior of the person you are appreciating I - Impact: Describe the impact on you- what you thought or felt in reaction to the behavior And close with a thank you. Here's an example, using this framework, from a possible healthcare work situation with me as the physician expressing gratitude to the medical assistant I work with: "Yesterday during our morning clinic, when I was running behind with patients (Situation), you spent extra time with one of our patients, helping him figure out how to get his insulin from the pharmacy (Behavior). That was very helpful for the patient and also for me, giving me space to catch up and feel calmer (Impact). Thank you very much." This appreciation framework allows one to be specific, and it is effective both at work and outside of it. I try to practice it at home! Give it a try and let me know how it works. It can be helpful to reflect on how you feel valued at work. The more you understand about how you as an individual feel valued, the more you can seek it for yourself and enhance your joy and engagement at work. I welcome your thoughts and experiences around feeling valued at work. I always appreciate the thoughtful responses I receive from the newsletter!

Take good care of yourself, Marti schultemarti@gmail.com 720 841-2619

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