Dr. Noelle Nelson


THE POWER OF APPRECIATION IN BUSINESS

CHAPTER 2

APPRECIATION'S DRIVING FORCE

When you're in a leadership or management position, whether you're the owner of a Mom-and-Pop grocery store, manager of a Big Box store, supervisor of a warehouse, head of the accounting department, or a Fortune 500 CEO, what you think and what you feel affects every person involved with your company or your department at every level.

You set the tone, you set the pace, and you determine what is going to matter and what isn't. Your vibration is the single most important vibration in your business. The trickle down effect is real. You have enormous vibrational impact.

If you see your products and services as having tremendous value, your employees or those you supervise will appreciate them in the same way. If you see the people who work with and for you to create that product or service as having tremendous value, those people will want to step up to the plate for you again and again. If you see your customers as having tremendous value, and provide them with an experience matching that value, your customers will appreciate your product or service, and become veritable champions for your company. Your business cannot help but prosper. It's scientific. Like attracts like.

This may seem extremely obvious to you, and you may be thinking, “Well of course I think my product/service is great, and the people who work for me are - well, they're pretty OK. And sure I love my customers; where would I be without them?” But the truth of it is, when we break down your general appreciation of your business into specifics, it may be a very different tale indeed.

WHAT DOES YOUR APPRECIATION METER READ?

To start, take the following quiz. Circle the term that most accurately reflects where you stand relative to each of the following statements:

1) I pause for a moment as I walk in the door and think how fortunate I am to be in this business:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

2) It's all a blur until I hit my inbox:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

3) I greet my secretary by name, and ask her how things are going before I take my messages:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

4) I grab the pile of messages off my secretary's desk on my way in. I don't know if she's there or not.

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

5) I listen attentively to my VP of sales as he reports to me:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

6) I'm answering the phone and reading email as my VP of sales drones on:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

7) I leave my office and walk the floors at least once a day to see what's going on and touch base with my employees:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

8) I'm in my office solid for 8 - 10 hours and I'm out of there. If you want to see me, you gotta come to me.

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

9) I relish the challenge of solving problems for my customers, of proving our excellence at every opportunity:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

10) Customers are a royal pain in the neck. I deal with them because I have to:

•Always •Frequently •Sometimes •Once in a while •Never

If you answered “Always” or “Frequently” to questions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, and “Once in a while” or “Never” to questions 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 your appreciation rating is high. Congratulations! Your business will prosper even more from this book.

If you answered “Sometimes” or “Once in a while” to questions 1,3,5,7 and 9, and “Sometimes“ or “Once in a while” to questions 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 your appreciation rating is moderate. You have some idea of how appreciation works in business.

If you answered “Never” or “Once in a while” to questions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, and “Always” or “Frequently” to questions 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 your appreciation rating is low. You can benefit a great deal from learning how appreciation can be applied in business settings.

Having determined where you are on the Appreciation Meter, here are some ways you can boost your rating, and gain the many performance, productivity and profitability advantages appreciation can bring to your business.

SHIFT YOUR FOCUS

Appreciation is an obsession with value. It is an active, purposeful search for the value or worth of whatever or whomever you come in contact with. Most of the time, your focus as you walk through the doors of your business is on everything that's going wrong: all the problems that you must deal with and somehow solve, or properly delegate to be solved. In the process, you ignore, and most emphatically fail to value, everything that's going right. That's the equivalent of vibrational suicide.

Look at your business with new eyes. Take yourself on an appreciative walk-through of your day. Deliberately search for what you could appreciate and could find of value in every moment of that day.

“I was appalled when I took my 'Appreciation walk.' I thought I was a very positive and appreciative person, but apparently, I'm not! I own a large physical therapy outfit here in town The first thing I see when I walk in are all the things that are out of whack, like the fluorescents that are still flickering, or the towels that haven't been picked up.

“I had to really stop myself to notice what I value--like how spacious and comfortable our reception area is, or that the towel service is almost always prompt. But when my manager tells me my top therapist is out sick, I immediately find myself irritated and angry, instead of appreciating the therapists who are in today, and valuing how they and my front office people will handle the re-bookings of that therapist's clients. And this is just the first 10 minutes of my day!”

John R., owner

Help yourself shift your focus by asking your managers and department heads to regularly report what's working, where the greatest progress is being made, who's going the extra mile, anything and everything that is of value in their department. Take a few moments to acknowledge and appreciate with your reporting manager, asking for more details, being enthusiastic about what they have to say, cheering the report so that your appreciation vibration is strong, clear and well focused.

PROBLEM SOLVING WITH APPRECIATION

When a problem inevitably comes up, refer first to your appreciation reports and find something you can value with which to springboard your problem solving.

“I feel like I'm re-wiring my brain to think differently. Now, when a problem comes up, say in maintenance, instead of picking up the phone and yelling at the head of maintenance, I go to my weekly appreciation reports and find something useful there. Then I pick up the phone and tell the head of maintenance that the cleaning crew is doing a much better job since he spoke to them, and the trainers have mentioned that the workout rooms are more pleasant to work in now.

“Then, for example, instead of saying ‘Fix the fluorescent lights already, would ya? They're driving everybody buggy,' I say ‘We're still having problems with the fluorescent lights. Do you have any ideas on what to do there?' and wait to see what he will say.

“More often than not, he'll come up with a good solution and be willing to implement it. Then all I have to do is acknowledge how good his idea is, thank him profusely, let him know how much I value his contribution to the success of our facility, and I'm off to the next problem.”

Rob M., workout facility manager

By asking employees what they think might resolve a problem, you are actively demonstrating how you value their abilities. When valued this way, most workers will try to think of good solutions. Many may even come up with better solutions than you would have thought of for the simple reason that they often know the workings of their particular job or department better than anyone. If employees don't come up with a solution right away, you can always ask them to brainstorm or think about it and get back to you. By doing so, you are acknowledging their value before usurping it with yours.

This is, of course, not to say that everyone else will solve problems for you, but that in valuing your workers' ability to do so, you vibrationally increase the chances that they will. In the meantime, by continuing to acknowledge their value, you increase the possibility that they will become proactive and regularly and eagerly seek solutions to future problems.

When you see value in people, you free them up to be more creative, more innovative and more valuable to your business. In addition, when workers are part of the decision-making or the creation of a solution, they own it and are therefore more willing to do what it takes to see it through.

APPRECIATION INCREASES YOUR MENTAL EFFECTIVENESS

Appreciation puts you in the proper mental and physical state to make you a better executive, supervisor or manager. Simply put, when your heart and brain work better, you not only enjoy better health and well-being, you are more effective on the job.

“My job as CEO of an international paper company means I'm faced with a mountain of problems from every quarter. From production through sales, I have to make decisions on all levels--local, national, international. I also have an agonizing sense of responsibility and accountability to our shareholders. I've learned how valuable it is to take a moment to appreciate--even in the midst of a crisis.

“I appreciate the overall health of our company, the continuing validity of our product, the solid staff I have all over the world. I really think about how much I value all that and am truly grateful for it. Once I appreciate, I feel better. I'm calmer, more focused and more energized. I'm better able to face the latest challenge. Because it seems to help me think more clearly, I often take ‘appreciation moments' throughout my day--especially when I'm most stressed.”

Margaret T., CEO

This CEO's experience reflects what we know from science: focusing on sincere thoughts and feelings of appreciation not only eases your heart rate into a harmonious pattern, but brings your nervous system into balance and greatly diminishes your stress response. All of your bodily systems work in greater harmony, bringing not only immediate relief, but also long-term benefits since the harmful effects of stress are greatly lessened. The CEO's experience of “thinking more clearly” likewise reflects what we know happens to the brain when you are in a state of active appreciation: greater clarity and focus, better motivation, enhanced memory flexibility of thought.

Taking “appreciation moments” throughout your day will help you maintain the physical and mental well-being you need to be an effective, powerful CEO, manager or department head.

BE SINCERE

For appreciation to be effective, it must be sincere. You cannot simply mouth words of valuing or gratitude and be done with it. Appreciation is a vibration, and vibration responds to underlying intention, not to words. If your intention is to express how much you value an employee's contribution to a project, you could simply say “Oh, my” and your vibration of valuing would align with a vibration of value within the employee. This leads to a valued state of being.

If, on the other hand, you discourse for 15 minutes on how you value the person's contribution yet mean not a word, your vibration would be one of manipulation, not appreciation. You would align with--you guessed it--a vibration of manipulation within the employee. The employee would not feel valued, but somehow conned. The resulting state of being would probably be distrust.

This being said, the power of genuine appreciation is limitless. It is most effective, as we will see in later chapters, when you value specific aspects of a worker's behavior, rather than offering a general “You're great” pat on the back.

ACKNOWLEDGE PEOPLE

Your impact as head of a company or head of your department cannot be overestimated. How you greet and acknowledge the people you interact with on a daily basis is of great vibrational import. When you fail to greet employees, vendors or co-workers in an appreciative manner, they feel as if they do not exist for you. This aligns with a vibration of “I don't matter.” People who feel they don't matter to you are highly unlikely to respond with valued behaviors.

Make people feel valued and valuable by looking them in the eye when talking. It shows you are really focusing on the human being standing before you, and if only for an instant, appreciating that person's existence on this earth. Allow a smile or pleasant expression to grace your face when you say “Hi” or “How ya doin'?” even if your contact is fleeting. You may think this is too much effort or takes too much time, but in reality, it's just a habit to acquire, and doesn't take more than a nano-second.

If possible, use a person's name when you greet them. Using a person's name is not simply a matter of politeness. Names are a symbol of our identity, of our being. Your name is , to you, the most important word in any language, and you will respond to your name more acutely than to any other word. By using a person's name, you are acknowledging their importance and value, and are reinforcing your vibration of appreciation for their very existence.

Being noticed in such a valuing and appreciative manner by you as the head of the company or department matters hugely to those who work for and with you-- a great deal more than you probably realize.

“What's nice is our boss--the big boss--he's not so above us he can't say ‘hi.' I'm always tickled that he remembers my name. I mean he hardly gets to our department more than a couple of times a year. We're a very big company. But he always looks me in the eye and says ‘Hi, Mary!' and I get the feeling he really sees me, you know? Makes me proud of working for the company.”

Mary C., office clerk

It doesn't matter where on the pay scale a person is, from the cleaning crew to the CFO, acknowledging others in a valuing way entrains value from them.

“I'm in and out of the CEO's office 10 times a day as VP of Marketing. Every time, he actually looks at me and smiles or says something before we begin discussing the matter at hand. I've worked for other CEO's and half the time I've felt like any old marketing person would do. With this guy, I feel like who I am matters, and I'll tell you--I work twice as hard because of it.” Vera G., VP of Marketing

The CEO of several catalog companies (Professional Cutlery Direct, LLC, Cooking Enthusiast and Uno Alla Volta, LLC), Terri Alpert, has built her business to a sales volume of $14 million in 11 years. Her manager, customer relations, Joe Angelicola, says, “I can tell you that top to bottom everyone is appreciated. Everyone is known by name. Our CEO will walk around tomorrow [December 22] to shake the hand of everyone here, to tell them thank you, and give them a gift. Knowing Terri's business acumen, she believes it is very, very important to thank employees.”

WATCH YOUR TALK

If you want to know what you truly think and feel about your business, listen to how you communicate with employees, vendors and others. Listen also to the words you use in talking about your product or service. If you want others to value your business, product or service, then you must value it.

Here are but a few of the ways you can either appreciate or depreciate your business with the words you choose:

Do you say “the company,” “the business,” “the product” or do you say “our company,” “our business,” “our product”?“Our” implies more than ownership, it implies pride of ownership--value. Saying “our” invites others to participate in that value with you.

Do you refer to the first day of the workweek as “awful Mondays,” respond to difficulties with “Oh, great, another problem,” or refer to work as “Another day, another dollar,” in a regular manner? These and similar expressions do not speak to valuing your business. Pay attention to the phrases you use repeatedly. These point to a frame of mind that in turn points to your vibration around the subject.

How do you refer to customers, vendors and employees? Are these terms value-enhancing or value diminishing? Remember, as the manager, department head or executive, your vibration is the most important vibration relative to those you work with. Whatever thoughts and feelings you are expressing through your habitual use of language are the thoughts and feelings others will align with vibrationally.

Words are both expressions of thought and shapers of thought. If the words you use point to a less than appreciative vibration, you can help shape that vibration by changing the words you choose. Bear in mind, however, that you must be sincere about the change. Vibration cannot be fooled.

How often do you say “thank you” or other expressions such as “Appreciate it,” “I appreciate that,” “Thanks so much”? It's almost impossible to overdo such expressions as long as they are sincere.

“Watch your talk” isn't just about verbal statements you make about your people, product and customers. It's also about the non-verbal statements you make through the physical condition and layout of your company or department.

Look around your business. What do the working conditions say about how you value, or fail to value, those who work for and with you? What is the condition of the work environment? The restrooms? Lunch areas? Do you offer daycare or other amenities such as a workout facility? How about the equipment? Machinery? Supplies? Tools? What needs fixing? Could employees benefit from better lighting? Would a new coat of paint make a dreary work area brighter? How about your reception area? What does it say to your customers and visitors? Is your parking lot great for the higher-ups but lousy for everybody else? What about security? The list goes on and on.

Watch your non-verbal talk by assessing how working conditions reflect your valuing of your employees, product and customers. Make changes that will demonstrate and further your genuine appreciation for all. By using ingenuity and creativity, many positive changes can be made with only a small amount of effort and expense.

WALK YOUR TALK

Appreciation is not a concept. Appreciation is a way of thinking and feeling that must be expressed in action. Valuing people and your product or service must be demonstrated physically. The first and easiest way to do this is to catch workers in the act of doing something valuable, something “right.”

Barkley Evergreen & Partners Public Relations has developed an entire program, the “Whodunit Award,” designed solely to catch employees in the act of doing something “right,” something extraordinary. The company, recognized as one of the top firms in the country by leading trade media including PRWeek and The Holmes Report, is one of seven operating companies at Barkley Evergreen & Partners, Inc. the largest employee-owned firm of its kind in the U.S.

“Whodunit” is a recognition program structured after the popular board game “Clue.” It involves “witnesses” who catch a “perpetrator” (the nominee) in the act of doing something “extraordinary” which represents the characteristics of Barkley Evergreen's “soul,” that is to say something “passionate, innovative, smart/savvy/ respected, ethical and experienced.' “Supporting testimony” is requested from “the victim, witnesses or accomplices.” The value of the program is undeniable. The company has maintained a 90% employee retention rate, and as Lori Hardy, Account Supervisor, states, “Our employees are motivated to do incredible things to win the award.”

So often, we are steadfastly focused on catching employees doing something wrong. In truth, catching people doing something right, something of value, is far more beneficial to your business.

Make a habit of walking around the business on a spontaneous and unanticipated basis. Using the appreciation reports gleaned from your department heads, let workers know that you appreciate a specific aspect of their valued effort. Tell them how their “good act” was noticed and what it means to you or to the company.

Know enough about what workers are doing in different departments so you can make meaningful comments about their contributions. Specific comments are much more appreciated than general ones. Saying “you're doing a great job” isn't as personally meaningful to an employee as “the specs you wrote up on Project X really made a difference to our customer,” or “Noticing that bug in our system software and bringing it to IT's attention was a big help in getting our new product out on schedule.”

Ask employees what they're working on right now. Engage them in conversation about it, even if only for a minute. Wanting to know their thoughts lets employees know that what they think and what they have to say is valuable. Always remember to look workers in the eye, use their name and be genuinely interested in their comments.

By walking through the departments in this manner, you are sending a powerful vibration that affirms the importance of the individual department members to the business. Important enough that you, an obviously busy person, value your employees sufficiently to rub elbows with them, if only for a brief moment.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

As you express yourself differently to and about those involved with your business and demonstrate your valuing of people directly, vibrations of others will match up with yours. The more intense and passionate your appreciation, the stronger your vibration and the more easily others will be entrained by you.

“At first it was weird having our CEO come down and spend time with the crews. It seemed awkward, frankly. But he seemed so sincere about it, when he'd thank a crewmember or comment on some work a team had completed, that we kind of all relaxed and started looking forward to his visits. Once he casually handed me a cup of coffee and said ‘Cream or sugar?' I nearly fell over. I started telling him some of what's really going on down here and he listened. I mean he really paid attention and things changed. I never had that happen before.”

Gerald D., mechanic

A frequently unanticipated but most valuable consequence of valuing those who work with and for you in this direct way is that you'll get value right back. The crew leader shared information with the CEO that the CEO would otherwise have only learned when things started going seriously wrong. This is a typical consequence of what happens when you appreciate. When workers feel your genuine valuing of them, they value you in return. Your business thrives in such an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation.

Southwest Airlines, now 34 years in business, with 31,000 employees, has the unique distinction of being the only airline after 9/11 that continued to make money. Southwest not only has a culture of appreciation, but specifically looks for individuals who are appreciative, who have an attitude of valuing others.

Per Melanie Jones, Programs Manager, Public Relations Department, and Sunny Stone, Director of Culture Activities at Southwest; “People who are chosen to be leaders at Southwest have it already. We hire for attitude and train for skill. If you have the attitude but not the skill, you'll get the job over someone who thinks they are wonderful.”

Some people may fall out of the mix. An individual completely without a vibration of appreciation cannot be entrained. Whether it is an employee, vendor or customer, that person may not, in the grand scheme of things, be a good “fit” for your business. After all, if they cannot value your products or services, how valuable can they be to your company?

LIVE UP TO YOUR PROMISES

Whether you are in the business of producing products or providing services--or both, making sure that your product/service lives up to its promises is a major component of the appreciative paradigm. You must value your product/service with such intensity and focus that you would never allow your product/service to fulfill less than its promise. Only then can you ask others--your employees, managers and customers--to value your product/service. It is your responsibility to give substance, reality, to that promise.

Richard Van Doren, Vice President of marketing for See's Candies, Inc., a California based eighty-four year old company founded in 1921 with 5,800 employees, and a sales volume of $300,000,000, says: “I was thinking last night about why our employees have such long tenures here and I think it comes down to our integrity. Charles See started the company using [his mother] Mary's recipes. Mary said, “Don't you ever compromise my recipes or you're finished.” So, Charles set the foundation, and that's been continued ever since.

“During the depression, when there was rationing of food, Charles See wouldn't compromise on the quality of the ingredients. He would make the candy he could, and when it was gone, he would close up shop and say ‘That's all we have today, come back tomorrow.' Integrity is very important to us. Our motto is ‘Quality without compromise.'

“For instance, when it comes to our ingredients, whatever the FDA standards are, we strive to do better every time. And we search for a supplier until we find one who will work with us to achieve that quality. Most of our ingredients are purchased in California, except for our ginger from Australia and our pecans from Georgia. We've been with Challenge butter since 1923 and we have a good relationship with them. Our product is such high quality and our employees realize the amount of money we spend on our product. I think it makes them feel good about the company.”

People work best when they believe that their work has meaning, and a large part of that meaning is derived from the meaningfulness ascribed to the product. Regardless of the industry, people's conviction that their product/service is the best is what motivates them to do their best. They feel a part of something worthwhile, and that justifies their effort. A vibration of worthiness entrains worthiness.

“I work for a company that makes wooden brackets, closet rods, that kind of thing. And you'd think well, a bracket is a bracket. But our CEO founded the company and he's absolutely dedicated to us making the very best brackets. Which is pretty much what any company will tell you.--I've worked in different parts of this business and everybody says ‘We want to make the best.' But with this company, it's different. It goes all out to make sure ours are the sturdiest brackets, nicely designed and all that.

“What really impressed me, is how our CEO will tell you about what it means to a family to have good brackets in their home; how our brackets hold up the shelves kids put their baseball trophies on; how our closet rods make mom's jobs easier because hangers slide easy on ours, and on and on. Well those images stick in my head. I take pride in my job, because of how much what we do, when we do it right, matters to people.”

Theo F., lathe operator

CREATE A CULTURE OF APPRECIATION

Collect stories of work done well, of those who went the extra mile and of bright spirits in the face of daunting problems. Make heroes of the ordinary men and women who work for and with you.

We are starved for recognition, for genuine applauding of our talents and skills. We long for and want to be heroes--those who prevail against all odds, those who win. The enormous success of TV reality shows is largely predicated on our need to be valued and to be seen as valuable. We want to be appreciated for who we are and want the opportunities to be winners.

Celebrate the value of whoever within your company deserves it, regardless of position or department. Everyone, from VPs to data entry workers, longs for appreciation. Celebrate workers' “good acts” outside of work as well. Foster a general climate of valuing people and both the surrounding community and your company will reap the benefits.

Using your weekly department appreciation reports, create a weekly “one-sheet” of what has been valued and appreciated in every department. Let it be purely devoted to good acts. Post the one-sheet prominently in every department. Encourage its reading at your weekly staff meetings. Make sure good acts by vendors, cleaning crews, and other ancillary workers are included in the and see that the one-sheet is distributed to them as well.

Discourage negative talk and gossip about anyone or anything. Don't indulge in “the economy is terrible” talk, or “stockholders are a nuisance” or “committee meetings, what a waste of time” type conversations. Don't diminish the power of your appreciation vibration by trashing or bashing others.

Address problems as solutions-in-the-making, and spend as little time as possible finding fault. Seek always to educate yourself and others as to how to make things better, rather than wasting time and vibration on pinning blame.

FOLLOW THROUGH

Appreciation is not a fad; it is not a technique. It is a paradigm shift, a new approach. If you want to see the tremendous advantage an appreciative approach can make to your business, you must consistently infuse your business with appreciative thoughts and practices. You must personally encourage, support, and lead the way.

It all starts with you. From you, appreciation can spread throughout every layer of your company and its business.

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© 2016 Noelle Nelson All Rights Reserved