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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Apr 21, 2023


Appreciation is an under-utilised method for engaging and motivating our people. This week we explore the most appreciated ways of showing appreciation.



Welcome to episode 182 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore the most appreciated ways of showing appreciation.


There are many ways we can show appreciation, however research demonstrates that employees favour some approaches over others. Before we explore these, it’s important to think about what we are appreciating.


Appreciation can largely be based on either effort or results. As leaders we will tend to favour one of these over the other. For me, I tend to place more emphasis on recognising effort. Some people really appreciate having their efforts recognised on the way towards a result, so this approach works well for them. However, others would prefer to be recognised for what they have delivered. They may even dislike being recognised for their efforts. So any form of appreciation starts with a conversation. You should explore how people have liked being appreciated in the past.


Research into the ways people prefer to be appreciated highlights words of affirmation as the most frequently chosen, with just over 45% selecting this as their most preferred method. This could include verbal or written appreciation. There weren’t major gender differences in how people prefer to be appreciated. Interestingly, the least preferred approach was gifts, coming in around 5%.


It can sometimes be easy to just give someone a gift or other token recognition, but this is likely to fall flat if it’s not paired with words of appreciation. Providing regular specific appreciation and positive feedback is a great way for motivating your people. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Take some time to talk to others about how they like to be appreciated and build that in to your approach.


Have a great week.




White, P. (2017), "How do employees want to be shown appreciation? Results from 100,000 employees", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 197-199.