The real secret to creating employee engagement
Facing facts: why we need to move beyond redundancy and find a new solution

Appreciation, Appreciative Inquiry and Employee Engagement

Like good music a good quote makes you think and is something you can enjoy over and over again.

This is a good – even great – quote and so I make no apology for repeating it.

“The greatest of human needs is the need for appreciation.” (William James)

Just think what that means for you and the way you manage your people.  Do you really appreciate them?

Voltaire expressed it slightly differently when he said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

This, however, has more than just philosophical significance. You could also say it has some accounting implications. This is because, when your employees are the human assets that you so often say they are, you need to recognise that, unlike most other assets, they can – and ought to – increase in value over time. And since the accounting term for a decrease in value is “depreciation”, it is entirely logical that an increase in value should be termed “appreciation.” This makes it more than just a play on words to say that you need to appreciate your people. It creates a secondary booster rocket for employee engagement.

You see, because William James was right when he said that people need to be appreciated, it follows that people who are appreciated are more engaged. In fact this is precisely what Voltaire was saying. When you appreciate people you secure greater loyalty from them. So now, by treating your employees as human assets, you create a formal mechanism to systemise this appreciation. The employee no longer has to depend on the supervisor’s whim and the content is likely to be less subjective.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that Stage 2 of valuing people as assets is employee ownership - making the employees co-owners of the business. Of course this creates reciprocal ownership whereby the employees actually own themselves, as assets of the organisation. This means they are effectively working for themselves and so are even more engaged and willing to commit to the organisation than they would otherwise be. As a result they are far more likely to fulfil their own potential, and so enhance the organisation’s. This is optimum talent management and the ultimate organisational win-win.

If you doubt this you need only look at the spread of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). As you possibly already know, this (as identified in Wikipedia) is “primarily an organisational development method which seeks to engage all levels of an organisation (and often its customers and suppliers) to renew, change and improved performance.” Rather than ask the question, what’s wrong, AI is “a self defined ‘asset-based approach.’ It starts with the belief that every organisation, and every person in that organisation, has positive aspects that can be built upon. It asks questions like ‘What’s working well?’, ‘What’s good about what you are currently doing?’”

Thus you can say that accounting for people as human assets is the next logical stage of AI. It applies the principles of AI to the people, and in doing so, does so much more than accentuate the positive – it institutionalises appreciation! So if you are looking to enhance your employee engagement and create more ownership and accountability for what they do, you should take a serious look at AI. And if you are already an AI disciple, you should be looking to take it to this next stage.

Appreciation is truly a powerful force. Tap into it, channel it and you will transform your organisation, your business and your results! You will create a great workplace where people do great work because they feel great.


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