Archive for the ‘Praise and Appreciation’ Category

Gratitude as an extension of being valued

February 10, 2009

Gratitude can often seem in short supply in many companies, but thanking people helps at every level of the organisation. Gratitude focuses the mind on the positive in your life and whatever your situation, you can find a great deal to be thankful for.

It is important to be grateful about where you are now, in order to be grateful about where you are going.

Even if you don’t enjoy your job, you can be grateful for the income it brings you, the experiences you can have, the friends you make and for the opportunities that are coming.

You might be thinking that “no one thanks me, no one appreciates me”. But just remember that if you give out positive energy and appreciation of others, you will find it coming back to you. Start appreciating what other people do for you at work. Focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. Try thanking other people, and they will begin to appreciate you in return. 

Take several minutes each day to find things for which to say thank you. It doesn’t matter who you say thank you to – God, the Universe, or other people. You can say them in your head, or out loud, or write them in a journal – whichever feels best for you. Try saying “Thank you” on your daily commute as this will give you a regular time every working day when you can reset your mind to the positive.  

This daily practice of gratitude puts the mind into a positive state for the day and will stop that feeling of dread as you travel to work. It may also stop you from being grumpy when you get home. Start with one or two things – your health, your family – and you will soon get the hang of it and find other things to be grateful for. Also, be thankful for the opportunities that are on their way to you, the people you will meet who will help you and the ideas that come to you about your future.

Being thankful is empowering at work for you and for others. Saying thank you to people for doing their jobs well is important. No matter what the job is, people need appreciation. It shows respect for that person and makes them feel more valued. You are likely to be treated better in return. Saying thank you is also a way to help difficult situations. For example, someone has made some critical comment about your work. Take a deep breath and then say “Thank you for your feedback – I appreciate the time you have put into it”. This can alter the dynamics of the situation in such a way that the criticism loses its sting and you can have an honest conversation about the subject.

Being grateful in advance also turbo charges your achievements, and boosts your confidence. If you can be thankful for achieving something, even before you have achieved it, then you are more likely to believe that you can reach that goal.

So think about the type of job you really want, be grateful that the job is coming to you, and then take action to achieve it. Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want. Start saying thank you for the opportunity that is coming. 


“What you think about, and thank about, you bring about.”

Dr John de Martini


100 Best companies to work for in 2009

January 31, 2009

Fortune magazine has just posted the 100 best companies to work for in 2009. Google has slipped from no. 1 to be replaced by NetApp – their policies include ditching a travel policy for common sense, writing future histories instead of business plans, and leave includes adoption aid. 

They also have a perks list which includes: 100% of health care premiums, encourage work-life balance and telecommuting, and some even help with buying a home and scholarships for kids. 

What does your company do that makes it a great place to work? 

Work Life Balance: “What Matters” by Daniel Petre

July 12, 2008
Success and Work-Life Balance

What Matters: Success and Work-Life Balance

If your work life balance is non-existent, or you work for a company that expects your soul in exchange for your pay – then you need to read this book. Your life doesn’t have to be this way – and this book can help you look at what really matters in your life, and make the change.

Daniel Petre understands the corporate 27 hour day having worked at Microsoft and other large companies. But he chose to focus on his family and his life outside of work, facing criticism from other executives who seemed to resent his choices. This book challenges the practices of office face-time, number of hours worked as the yardstick for reward, office centred social life as well as work, and the only way is up.

Here are some of the insights I gained from reading this book:

  • It is important to figure out what is most important to you, work out how to do your job in the most efficient and productive way and then allocate time to other activities in your life – “be ruthless with your diary” and make sure you have time for the people and activities that mean the most to you
  • Remember that you don’t always have to move upwards in a company. You can choose to move sideways e.g. retrain or downwards e.g. work part-time or take less responsibility. People may criticise you for this, but you don’t need acceptance from your work colleagues. You need to make sure your life is focussed on the right things.
  • Concentrating only on work is a short term view – your employees and colleagues will not be there when you are sick, or need a friend, or when you retire. Those nights out on the corporate expense account are great sometimes, but not every week while your family eats without you and your kids go to bed without seeing you all week.
  • Studies have actually found that changing the way employees are treated boosts productivity more than changing their pay. Motivating people by treating them well is also cheaper – so everyone wins!
  • Sustainable leaders must understand themselves, develop and reward competence, cherish diversity, advocate equity, have the ability to communicate at all levels, have a deep understanding of the organisation, vision and strategy. They must be a human being first, then a corporate executive. They must have perspective – where life has many aspects and work is just a part of it.
  • A life of sustained success has all facets – health, family, wealth, work, social legacy, balance – “people obsessed with work end up lonely, sad, bitter souls”
  • When we were children balance was encouraged – we did lots of different things. Then suddenly we spend the bulk of our waking hours on one thing and nothing else is supposed to matter. We are sucked into this culture and we all want to fit in – but we mustn’t forget what is really important
  • Companies focus on asset maintenance for their machinery – but what about employees as assets? There should be a focus on maintaining people – and we are all responsible for making sure we ourselves are sustainable.
  • Get a reality check now and then. Remember how lucky you are even on the worst day at work. Perspective brings home what is important – your family, your health, your home.

This is a great book that will help you take stock of your personal situation now and reflect on where you are going with your career. You get what you focus on, and if work is everything, then the rest will fall away. Is this what you want?
There are exercises in the book that will help you identify what is important, where you spend your time and challenge your perspective. There are also cautionary tales of people who have had stellar corporate careers but are left with little happiness on retirement.

So, if you are struggling with work/life balance – I highly recommend this book!

If you would like to buy the book, it is available here
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The Pope: 7 key points On Human Work – for World Youth Day 2008

July 6, 2008

World Youth Day (WYD) will be held in Sydney, Australia on Sunday July 20 2008. Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting Australia for the first time and more people are expected than for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Although WYD is a Catholic event, the Pope is an important figure on the world stage, and regardless of your religion, the Pope still has global influence.
So what does the Pope think about work?

Pope John Paul II wrote “Laborem Exercens” as a letter to the Catholic Church about human work, considering it to be an essential part of life. Here are 7 key points from the letter that can help you reflect on your job.

  • 1. Through work, people can participate in the same creative action as God. Look around at architecture, art, industry, agriculture, business, cities, books, inventions, technology – even down to the chair you sit on and the clothes you wear. The manufactured world is an expression of human work and much of it is marvellous. People should imitate God in creation: work, and then rest.
  • 2. More attention should be paid to the worker than to the work they do, as people are centrally important. Workers are not just resources and business is not just an economic decision. “Work has no meaning by itself; it is the human being that counts”. Individuals need to work at jobs they can express themselves in, and be able to demonstrate their abilities. People need to be praised and rewarded for their work.
  • 3. Work is sometimes a heavy burden. “With the hard work of your hands, you will get your bread till you go back to the earth from which you were taken” (Genesis 3:19). Sometimes it is a physical burden and exhausts us; sometimes it is a mental or emotional struggle. But work also enables us to become more human, to learn lessons about ourselves, life and other people.
  • 4. Work is essential to family life, as it provides income and education. Working within the community for the good of the family and others also gives people a purpose for their life. Work can promote self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment which are essential for happiness.
  • 5. Work should be rewarded appropriately. Financial reward in exchange for work is what keeps society functioning. Other social benefits should also be given to the worker including health care, holidays and rest time, and safe working conditions.
  • 6. Work unites people and builds communities. Unions and associations should be encouraged in order to pursue a common good and prevent injustice in the workplace. Work should be available to all people equally. Disabled people should be supported in their right to work. Immigrants should be given the same chance as others since they bring skills from other countries to their new home.
  • 7. “We inherit the work of generations before us and we share in the building of the future”. Work makes us part of the stream of humanity that continues in the world. We need to be aware of where we have come from, and what type of world we are creating for our children. We need to consider the effect our work has on society and the environment. Is our work building a better future?

“Work remains a good thing, not only because it is useful and enjoyable, but also because it expresses and increases the worker’s dignity. Through work we not only transform the world, we are transformed ourselves, becoming more a human being”.
On Human Work #9

Original Text:

Modern Translation:
World Youth Day:
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Happiness at work: We can all make a difference

July 1, 2008

There is a growing army of people trying to change the way we work, and the message is getting louder.
If more of us concentrate on improving our working lives instead of moaning about them, then companies will change.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

Today I am recommending the Happy at Work Manifesto by Alexander Kjerulf

It contains 25 points on how you can change your work life to make it happier. I agree with all of them.
One of my favourites is

21: Happiness at work ain’t rocket science.
The things that are necessary to make me happy at work are really simple and can easily be brought into almost any workplace. Recognition. A positive attitude. Learning and growing. Sharing decisions. Openness.

You can also check out Alexander’s blog at 

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Praise and appreciation: the keys to job satisfaction?

May 30, 2008

People deeply desire recognition and acknowledgement for what they do. Studies have shown that employees are motivated by praise and appreciation before promotion or a bonus.

A word of praise, a personalised email of encouragement or thanks can make all the difference to how people feel about their jobs.  These mementos last longer than the pay cheque and show that someone has valued what they have done. There are some managers and even companies that people love to work for because they are known for having a special way of treating people. These managers and companies recognise that people really are their means of doing exceptional business, and treat them accordingly.

Many employers seem to think that employees are paid to work, so why should they be praised as well. But if companies do not have a culture of praise and appreciation, it will be reflected in their retention rates.    

Here are 5 ways to incorporate praise and appreciation into your workplace.

·         Encourage a culture of appreciation. Give out positive energy and appreciation of others, and you will find it coming back to you. Start appreciating what other people do at work. Focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. Try thanking other people, and they will begin to appreciate you in return. This works at all levels of the organisation. Appreciate your Managers and appreciate your direct reports and co-workers. Everyone’s role is important and if people start to tell each other this, then the effect will be felt throughout the organisation.    


·         Write a thank you note to someone who has performed well – on paper, with ink. In these days of email, a handwritten note will stand out as something special. Use a good quality card and be sincere in what you write. People will keep these cards and too often they are only given when they are leaving the company. Giving this recognition during employment will improve their job happiness and retention rates.

·         Stop the blame and use it as a lesson learnt session instead. If companies have a blame culture, then people feel they cannot take risks or try to improve things for fear of censure. Encourage people to contribute and praise them for trying something new. If it works you will want to use their idea. If it doesn’t, then praise them for trying, and analyse how it can be done better next time. Don’t criticise and blame, but praise and encourage.


·         Use the monthly meeting to award people for a job well done in a public forum. Have an original award and give it to people for going above and beyond their job description. This may relate to a demonstration of company values or for excellence. One example is the First Penguin award used at Carnegie Mellon, which is given for being a risk-taker and being ahead of the pack. It refers to the first penguin that dives into the ocean containing predators, someone fearless and ready for anything. What original award could you start at your workplace?


·         Be aware of what people are doing in the workplace. If someone does a particularly good job, reward them unexpectedly. For example, tell them to have an expensive meal out with their family and put the cost on their expenses. Have a “Special Day Off” award when someone gets to have a day off for free and still get paid. Or get tickets to a sporting event and take a group of employees instead of clients. Make your employees feel that they are worthy of excellent treatment. After all, they are the ones who make the company work.      

Praise needs to be genuine, so all of these should be done with sincerity. These points have nothing to do with the institutionalised “praise” of bonuses and organised rewards/commissions. These examples are for unexpected thanks and appreciation of what people do over and above their job descriptions. Reward people for their service and their loyalty, and you will find that they give even more.

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