Positive Relationships Spur Exceptional Performance: Three Tips on Connecting Appreciation and Performance

Jim Ludema Culture, Leadership

This post originally appeared in our
November eNews.
Most of us know how to show gratitude and appreciation to friends and family, but it can be tougher at the office. Yet, research from a variety of sources confirms the link between gratitude, appreciation, and improved performance. You can expect more from people when you take time to say thanks. Here are three examples.

Positive relationships spur exceptional performance. We know instinctively that people work harder when they are appreciated. What you may not know is that it will make you happier too. In his book Positive Leadership, Dr. Kim Cameron of the University of Michigan shows that it’s what people give to a relationship, rather than what they receive, that accounts for the relationship’s positive effects. Give gratitude, and you’ll feel better about yourself, your employees and their performance. 

People who feel valued will work for meaning rather than just money. Author Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, concludes that most of us aren’t purely motivated by our salaries or bonuses. Give people tasks that require intelligence and compensate them fairly, and they’ll be motivated by what they find meaningful. Show appreciation for your team by helping them connect their tasks to meaningful outcomes. “Thank you, Ryan, for your exceptional work in serving that client. She told me you made a great impression – we’ll likely get her business, and it’s due in large part to your great work.”

Learn more: See a quick video summarizing Pink’s book in our blog post, Carrots & Sticks are So Last Century.
Engaged employees are the future of your business. The four authors of It’s My Company Too!, a new book published by Greenleaf Press, introduce a new pinnacle of employee engagement: entanglement. Entangled employees, they write, are what drive the business forward: they innovate, they lead, they push back. And how do employees get entangled? They work in a strongly positive culture that offers autonomy: in essence, they’re appreciated. Entanglement may at first sound like a negative term, but as it’s been redefined, it’s the best business leaders could hope for in employees, and it revolves around gratitude.
Hear more: Read a review of It’s My Company Too!

This holiday season I plan to make a daily point of expressing gratitude to my colleagues. I hope you’ll find inspiration to do the same: and let us know the effects of gratitude in your company.
Jim Ludema, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership and a Professor of Leadership and Change at Benedictine University. 
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