Are You Listening Leaders?

If you are newer to Onward, and haven’t picked up your copy of this amazing book on cultivating resilience then you are missing out. If you are a leader, there are sections throughout the book titled Implications for Leaders that offer helpful hints and reminders for how to incorporate this resilience work into your leadership role. This month as we focus not the habit of celebrate and appreciate the implications for leaders are an especially important reminder:

  • Across the United States, in all sectors, the top reason why people quit a job is that they don’t feel appreciated: According to the US Department of Labor, 64% of people who quit their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated or valued (Robbins, 2007).
  • Also according to the US Department of Labor, 65% of people in the United States say that they receive no praise or recognition in the work- place. Interestingly, researchers suspect that of those 65%, it’s possible that many do receive praise, but aren’t able to hear it, or it isn’t delivered in a way and with language they can register (Robbins, 2007). Employees who receive praise are more productive and more engaged with their col- leagues, and stay with their organizations longer.
  • New teachers in particular really need their successes and contributions to be acknowledged to build resilience (Sumsion, 2004).
  • Be mindful of the subtle difference between appreciation and praise. When offered by a superior, praise can have a slightly condescending tone or can feel paternalistic, depending on the phrasing. For example, this statement could sound condescending if an assistant principal were to say it to a teacher: “Good job getting your attendance in on time.” By contrast, the same sentiment might be communicated as appreciation through a statement like, “I appreciate receiving your attendance on time so that I can now file our attendance report for the day.”
  • Giving appreciations does not preclude offering feedback. A certain amount of constructive feedback is necessary and productive. Research conducted by John Gottman (1999) recommends five instances of praise or positive reinforcement for every one piece of feedback or negative rein- forcement. Emphasize the positive and offer feedback.