How are you motivated?
For years I was motivated by money. I would do any kind of odd job to earn money! I applied for a job as soon as I could because I wanted money. Even though the money was adequate, I was not happy in this job because of the environment. As I look back on that experience I realize that I really cared about something more than money, appreciation. While I did not mind the raises, I wanted something more. I soon left that job and took another one in the same industry. The difference was that in the new job I felt appreciated and only tolerated as a means to an end in the other one. It made all the difference. I have had a job in one form or another now for over 25 years. I am responsible for my wife and 2 children now and money is still a motivating factor, but the jobs that gripped my heart were the ones in which I felt appreciated. I do wonder if George’s rant, while proper, needed a bit of this book sprinkled in also. Are we facing those issues in our organizations because we are not loving them as they need love? Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. But does that mean to love them in the way you need to be loved or just make sure they feel loved like you want to feel loved, supported, and appreciated? I think it is the latter.
Appreciation is a human need that often goes bankrupt. Human resources scramble to make sure people are feeling affirmed and appreciated. Personnel Committees can learn from this in most churches today. I have been in scant few churches and organiztions that do this well. How can we say thanks in ways that impact the person without breaking the budget? That is the problem isn’t it? We want to say “Well done!” but we want to cut costs too.
Step #1 Determine the value of the person being appreciated. How valuable is this person to the organization? This question does not have to be concerned with rank and position. Like sports, the value of the position raises the stakes. Michael Lewis in The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, takes the reader on a 50 year journey of how football began to value a player higher than anyone ever thought possible because of the protection the blind side lineman brought to the quarterback, who many still believe is the most valuable player on any team. If the person is of high value then thank them with value. Before you tell me that all members are of the same value, please take a breath. All have value. Some are more valuable than others.
Step# 2 Examine the length of service. The longer a person has been committed to your organization the greater the appreciation ought to be. Many companies took a beating in the last 2 decades for “letting go” employees close to retirement to cut budget needs. Others just fired them to hire cheaper, younger labor. Proverbs tells us that there is honor that accompanies grey hair. We should honor the one who has served long. While it would be cheaper to go young, it might cost you more in the long run. Honor those long-time employees well. Make it a big occasion. Build into your policy manuals incrementally better incentives for staying committed to the organization longer.
Step# 3 Discover their sweet spot. My son is learning to play golf. We are teaching him that there is a certain space on the face of the club called the sweet spot. When that spot hits the ball it is like hitting a home run in baseball. The ball will have the proper loft and longer distance. If you do not hit the sweet spot, the ball will still fly but not as well or long. The same is true in your organizational appreciation model. You may have standardized the concept without taking into consideration of what the sweet spot of the person is. Fear not! Gary Chapman and Paul White have written a book just for you titled The Five Languages of Appreciation. Even you do not read this book, it only makes sense that what makes one feel appreciated may not work for another.
Jesus shares a parable of servants given sums of money from their boss. To the ones who use it wisely and with gain the owner says, “Well done!” To the one who mismanaged what he had been given the owner throws them out. Each of us have those whom we manage. Like the parable of the talents, what are you doing with them? Are you showing them appreciation? Are showing them love? Every organization I know struggles with dedication and commitment. The answer might simply be that our employees, volunteers, and members leave because someone else shows them love and appreciation tailored to them rather than tied to a policy manual.
What will you do to keep them? Step up.