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Author Topic: Feeling Appreciated at Work
TL
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So I've been struggling lately at my place of employment. Black vibrations. Negative waves. We're all miserable.

The trouble is, I'm in charge. I'm less concerned with my own misery, and more concerned with the misery of the good people who work under my charge -- though naturally it all goes hand in hand.

So I'd like your help. I'm looking for some perspective because right now I'm in one of those unfortunate situations where I'm just feeling too close to it all to have a clear view. The view isn't good from here.

If you don't mind, would you guys be willing to share with me some times when you felt particularly appreciated at work? Any specific instances when you felt that your contributions were seen and valued? Or just felt great about going to work -- and what was it that made you feel that way?

Thanks....

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Morbo
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I've thought about it, and nothing specific springs to mind. One thing though: speeches at work have never motivated me, but a positive one-on-one interaction with a boss has motivated me and improved my attitude. Maybe that's just me.

Good luck, it sounds like a tough problem to deal with as a boss.

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AvidReader
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For one of our Friday meetings, we had to email the boss a list of 3 things we'd do differently if we were in charge tomorrow and 3 things the company could do to keep us.

One of my suggestions was to combine three of the departments into one metadepartment to get stuff done easier. Now that the office remodeling plans have been announced, one of the departments in question is moving right next to us. Obviously, someone in charge thought of that long before our department survey, but it still feels like I got to contribute. [Smile]

My other three probably weren't as useful, but they must have solidified that when I say I want to go back to school in three more years, I really mean it. It's nothing about the job; it's that I love science and miss it.

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sylvrdragon
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There's some kinda power struggle going on among a couple of the managers at my work right now. They're at the same level as far as he chain of command goes, but one is apparently trying to take over. It's rather odd as the non-aggressive of these two combatants took me aside last night and told me pretty much the whole situation.

One is an easy going, super nice, hard working older guy who would do just about anything for his employees. The other is crude, obnoxious, temperamental, sadistic and quite possibly insane. She also doesn't know how to get along with people; especially GOOD people.

Naturally, he's the one that I hope comes out on top, as the other is a [expletive deleted]. The turnover rate at my work is bad enough as it is, but if the psycho she-demon gets put in charge, I could see the place seriously shutting down for the simple reason that we wouldn't be able to keep employees. The problem is, she's the Director of or department's pet, and so she tends to get her way.

It's astounding how much immaturity there can be among adults in the real world.

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Goody Scrivener
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I'll agree with Morbo. Speeches from "on high" have never helped and have sometimes made me feel worse as an employee. I much prefer having my boss come to me individually with specific praise for a particular task or project. I also really liked getting notes from clients, and there's one client in particular that always sends me personally a Christmas gift in addition to the basked of sweets for the office.
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Icarus
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Being told by my boss: "Do it your way. I hired you because I believe you are a professional. I trust you to do a good job."
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Amanecer
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I think basic compliments do more than anything grand. I get told regularly at my job that I'm doing a good job and that they're glad I'm there. More than anything, that's what keeps me coming back.
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martha
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I like my boss and workplace a lot. I like how my boss jokes with us. I like that when it's convenient, she lets us work on the projects that interest us most (i.e. I get to construct 20 of the same costume from scratch, and a certain coworker gets to do alterations, because these are things we enjoy doing). The most important thing, I think, is that she often works alongside us, doing the same kind of work we do and dealing with the same problems.

I hope this is helpful -- I know that some things aren't applicable in all work situations.

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The Pixiest
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My boss found out they were going to lay me off and he threatened to quit if they did.

That made me feel particularly appriciated. By my boss anyway =D

(I didn't get laid off =)

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scholar
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I appreciated when we were working hard and they bought us lunch. I don't know if it actually helps, but I throw miniparties (martinelli's and chocolate)when people accomplish goals (isolating a mutant, finishing a round of experiments, etc).
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dean
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I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. Iím a new manager in a retail store in a small company thatís been going through a lot of changes. I was only promoted last October and spent a month and a half managing one store, then a month and a half managing a second one, and since January first I've been at my third and (most-likely) final one. Despite how new I am, two more managers have been promoted since I was, so the owner and supervisor donít have time to give me much personal attention, nor do I care for either of their managing styles.

I've been trying to think back to the managers I worked well with and the managers I didn't work well with to know what it is that I want to be sure to do and what it is I want to be sure to avoid.

For me, I've always felt best with managers who had clear expectations and who kept me appraised of how well I was living up to them, the ones who noticed and praised progress but who let me try new things within their limitations. I have also appreciated the managers who always did their full share rather than pawning off some part of their share onto others. I value a good-humored manager who won't let the day-to-day stress cause them to behave in ways that are snappish or inconsiderate. I also value a manager who wants to know what's going on at all times and who passes on that information as much as possible. I value a manager who sees the big picture and keeps things organized so details donít slip through the cracks even when I, as an employee, donít know what all is going on.

These were the sorts of qualities that made me feel good and confident even at times when I've hated the individual jobs.

It sounds to me, TL, that from your descriptions of a bad vibe that it's not really something you're doing wrong. It's that there is some other thing going on below the surface. Is there something going on with the company that would make people feel bad and insecure? Is there a person who is really divisive or who gossips? Is everyone really overworked? Or does it seem like some kind of bad attitude spread from person to person?

My second store was something like that. There was an assistant manager who was like a poison. Every person asked not to be scheduled to work with her. She picked fights, and no matter what happened she always felt that she was the morally superior person-- the only person who ever did her job well and completely, the only person who cared about the job. Everyone else was lazy and selfish. If she needed time off it was desperately important and only an unfeeling monster would expect her to work. If other people needed time off, it was because they were emotionally immature. I never succeeded in getting rid of her because she was a pet of some of the higher ups. The new manager is being much harsher and more confrontational with her and the attitude of the other people seems to be improving accordingly.

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rivka
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What do I appreciate in a boss? Let me own my own work.

If you assign me a task, let me do it. Don't take over right near the end so you can have the control and the "glory" without the effort -- and then complain to me that your supervisor does the same thing (albeit considerably less subtly).

Don't reward my intelligence and efficiency by expecting more of me than my less-efficient co-workers.

If you have anger issues, work on them. Don't yell at me (or others in the office) and then apologize. Repeatedly.

Stand by your decisions -- don't waffle and second-guess yourself so many times we never know what to expect next. To quote one of my favorite Sondheims, "The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not. You have to move on."

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Kwea
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I have a very similar situation going on right now, and what I found was that I appreciate the one on one conversation, or at least small group conversations, a lot more than the general acknowledgments in a more public setting. I think BOTH types of praise are important, but the more personal it is (without losing professionalism, of course) be more effect it seems to have on my employees.
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advice for robots
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I agree that being able to sit down with your boss and go through your performance is a real morale booster. Being in on decisions that affect you helps. Anything that makes the employees feel like they're being treated with respect. Getting more than a glimpse of what kind of value you're adding--that helps a lot. In my line of work, it's such a boost to see positive results of my work in the marketplace. I feel like I'm having much more of an influence than I usually feel like.

People want to feel like all the time they're plowing into this job and this company is actually worth something, that they're part of something meaningful, that they're making a difference and their efforts are both noticed and appreciated.

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Swampjedi
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Treating your employees like the professionals that they are can't be overstated. My boss does not do that, and the morale in the office is pitifully low for that reason.

I second the "mini-parties" thing.

Communication is VITAL. Being able to listen to our concerns without being defensive (especially if we're concerned about his boss, or higher) is also tremendously important. Unfortunately, all of these things are lacking at my place of employment.

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Ginol_Enam
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Individual rewards. Individual punishments.

At my place its all general. We're a "team," which means if a couple of people screw up everybody gets punished, and if a couple of different people work hard to get it fixed everybody gets rewarded. I sometimes can't figure out why I try so hard when I hardly even get vague praise.

And maybe you should just ask your employees. "What do you think would make your job more fun? What would make you like being here more?"

Even asking what they want might improve morale.

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steven
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I suggest rehiring Chex Mix, to teach his dances to the workers to improve morale.
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Lupus
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A few things I have picked up in my time in retail management.

Make sure that your good people know that you value them...and don't try to lean on them to much.

It is easy to lean heavily on the good people, and ignore the bad ones. However, your good workers will soon resent the fact that they are doing all the work, and the slackers get away with doing nothing.

You need to utilize your best workers, without burning them out. Perhaps you can take some menial tasks away from them that the less motivated people can do. Also, make sure that your good workers know how much you value them. General praise is OK at times...but specific praise is more useful. It is much better to point out a specific task that someone did well and thank them for it, than it is to simply say "you are a good worker." When you point out specific things that someone does right, it shows that you really are paying attention.

Also, don't play favorites. It is easy to think of someone as a good worker just because you get along well with them. People will get annoyed it you always favor someone simply because you are "friends" with them. I have seen managers that let people get out of work by talking to them. It is very annoying to be working while some people are hanging out with the boss.

It seems silly, but remember to smile. People like working with pleasant people. If you are happy, the people around you are more likely to be happy. In the morning, great people with a smile, and ask how they are doing. It only takes a couple of minutes at the start of your day, and it can be very beneficial.

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