"No feedback is good feedback.", was the feedback of my manager in continental Europe, as I presented my effort with a grin of accomplishment.
Coming from India, a touchy-feely country, it came as a rude shock to me. Talking to other international colleagues, I realized I was not alone. Many people were feeling a lack of motivation without any positive feedback. We revolted and went to Ralph, HR director, demanding a change in culture. He was genuinely interested but puzzled, "I see your point, but Why to appreciate?"
Before why, I would like to know what is appreciation? As per the Oxford dictionary, it is a "feeling of being grateful for something." For me, appreciation is about being grateful to the Beauty we find in others, the Beauty of e.g., random acts of kindness, delivered promises, excellence at work, or creative ideas. This exchange of gratitude for the Beauty changes both the appreciator and the appreciated.
The philosophers have perpetually debated whether Beauty "lies in the eyes of the beholder" or is an objective feature of beautiful things. Whatever the case may be, the experience of Beauty does changes the beholder by evoking emotions, desires, or longings. Whether it is watching a full-moon sky with a lover, or sweeping through Instagram pictures during work, we "consume" Beauty because it evokes us.
By appreciating Beauty, more than anything, we change ourselves by connecting to our values or aspirations. By verbally acknowledging a job well done or an innovative idea, we might be honoring our values of excellence or creativity. Through appreciating others, we can find ourselves. A research study by GGSC (2014) claims that people experienced higher levels of the feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, by saying the word "Thanks".
Evidently, appreciation also motivates the appreciated to do the task better — an O.C. Tanner Institute study shows that 88% of employees who receive recognition feel inspired to do great work. What would happen to an artist or an excellent piece of art if no one appreciates it?!
The ability to appreciate Beauty is a gift we humans received as we developed our self-reflective consciousness. Appreciating Beauty is in the essence of being human. Now, where should I start on Ralph's question of, "Why Appreciate?" Appreciate it because you can & would like to, because it will make you a better person, and because it will motivate me to do a good job.
Finally, Ralph got convinced. The result: a new rule was created where managers were obliged to appreciate team members. Team members can provide written upward feedback to their managers, whether they feel well appreciated. A few months later, as I entered my manager's office, he shouted, "Please give me a reason to appreciate in this meeting, I was told to appreciate at least three times today!"
Starting all over again!
Deepak is a founder and MQ of Meaning Quotient.
Check out our offerings to build a culture of appreciation at: mq-learning.com/appreciation