Tis the season to celebrate! It is a time when we can see the fruit of our year’s labor and celebrate with those who made it happen. It allows us to take a breath and look forward to a new season ahead. We can usually acknowledge the victories, but we sometimes miss the milestones.

As we consider the opportunity for recognition, consider that people tend to repeat behaviors that are rewarded. This is why it can be so powerful when you are specific, authentic and gracious in your thanks and personal in your appreciation.

As we enter this season of celebration, let me share five ways you can show your appreciation for others, how to know which way to use, and when to deliver it.

Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White, authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, found that there are five major ways you can reward someone for making a difference. Whether it is a client who has given you great referrals, a colleague who has helped you work through some important projects, a subordinate who went above and beyond, or a wholesaler or vendor who came through in a pinch, the first thing to consider is what would mean the most to them.

Whether personal or professional, we don’t all feel comfortable or appreciated in the same way. Some people would be immensely thankful if you announced to a group of people what they had done for you, while others would be mortified. That makes it a bit more difficult, but there is a great resource to consider the five ways we can appreciate people. You can check out more details at www.appreciationatwork.com.

Here are five ways you can show your appreciation in the workplace:

1. Words of Affirmation

Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Hearing words of praise or acknowledgment is a huge morale booster for many. Recognize those that put in extra effort by giving them a word privately or publicly as you deem appropriate.

2. Quality Time

Take them out to dinner or for a beer. Listen to them. Go for a walk. What is important is that you give of your time and attention and let them know you are here for them.

3. Tangible Gifts

Wrap a package just for them. Sometimes a tangible gift can speak more than words can about how you have paid attention and gotten to know them.

4. Acts of Service

Pitch in when you know they are overloaded. Do joint projects or help them to repair anything that is not working correctly.

5. Physical Touch

This requires acknowledging personal space, but a high five, pat on the back or a hug can work wonders to let people know you recognize and appreciate them.

You can get way more advantage by knowing which appreciation style to use. While there is a survey folks can take online, it may not be timely or appropriate to ask the one you want to show appreciation to take a survey. If this is the case, consider what you have observed.

Before considering these individual methods, we each tend to show appreciation to others in our own language. Consider how the individual you wish to recognize shows gratitude to others. This may be an indication of their primary language of appreciation. Another way is to consider their social style and how they have responded in the past.

Treating people equally does not mean treating them the same. Some people would rather have a gift certificate to go to dinner with their spouse, and others would rather you take them out. If in doubt, you can give them a choice. Don’t feel badly if they choose differently than you would. That is precisely why we are addressing this issue now.

Creating a culture of appreciation can make your environment an attractive and enjoyable place to work. Knowing the most effective way to appreciate each person on your team is a huge plus. I have seen this at play in many offices around the country. Well-meaning individuals think they are treating their team when everyone feels they are just putting in more time at work. If you do not consider the way your appreciation will be received, it can be counterproductive.

At a client holiday party, I saw beautiful Tiffany blue boxes being handed out to clients for the most tenure with the practice, the most referrals, and the fastest responsiveness to requests for processing transactions or obtaining plan data. This was a good example of rewarding people publicly for behaviors you’d like to see repeated by the whole room of guests. I have also experienced events with staff accolades, and I have heard words of affirmation between colleagues.

The timing for delivering appreciation can be meaningful as well – sooner is usually better than later. Decide whether to give your thanks privately or publicly. Then, consider your options and elect verbal, handwritten, and/or a social media post. Consider the method whether it be a gift card, a wrapped present hand-delivered, or an Amazon home delivery. Consider when and where, as well as how you will show appreciation.

Keep in mind that delivering recognition the wrong way is still probably better than not delivering it at all. Trust me; they are wondering if you noticed. They are hopeful that you will show your appreciation. Don’t miss any opportunity. It can cost so little, take only a small amount of effort yet mean so very much.

I encourage you to continue this course of action, particularly as we end a truly incredible year of ups and downs and head into an all-new environment in the new year. Appreciate one another and consider how important it can mean to work together in a fulfilling way.
I wish you all a beautiful holiday, a strong finish, and a fabulous New Year. I celebrate you, your achievements, and the integrity with which you do business. It is truly an honor to serve you.

Remember, we are here for you. If we can better show our appreciation to you, please let us know.

If you’d like to add the MBA assessment (Managing by Appreciation) to your project plan, let your project manager know. Celebrating your team and your clients is an excellent beginning to a fantastic client experience in 2019.


Bernie DeLaRosa, ​CFP®, ChFC® CRPC®, CLU®, APMA®, CASL®, BFA™
Managing Business Consultant

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Celebrate the Season with Appreciation

How to recognize those who made a difference