The #1 Thing Leaders Can Do to Create Productive Employees

Have you ever worked for someone who seemed to never be satisfied? In an effort to achieve “greatness,” they were always looking for ways to improve and were always on you about what could be done next versus stopping to really evaluate what had already been done.

At the end of each day you felt tired, unclear about your priorities and generally unhappy about the work you did because you knew there was always an endless list of things that “management” expected next.

I am not saying that pushing hard and driving output connected to clear business goals isn’t critical to business success, but just as critical are motivated and productive employees who are excited about taking on the next challenge and delivering to their fullest when doing so.

The #1 thing that a leader can do to create productive employees that drive towards business goals and output is show appreciation. The recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something not only motivates them to highly achieve, it gives people confidence to push forward to drive improvement and to deliver more.

You know you’ve seen it before in yourself or others you’ve worked with. When there is a void of appreciation people feel beaten down, under-appreciated and generally not excited about coming to work each day.  I am not suggesting empty appreciation, however, it’s got to be consistent and genuine.

Be careful not to veil criticism with appreciation. I had one boss who I could tell that when I was about to get reamed, he would start off the conversation by complimenting something – usually something that he normally wouldn’t even comment on.

This doesn’t just apply to employees, it applies to people in general. As the VP of Marketing and Customer Success at Glooko, I’ve seen that appreciating the effort a person with diabetes makes to improve their glucose levels, no matter how big or small, is a critical aspect of their diabetes management. It can be as big as recognizing a period of time when someone is “in-range” with their blood glucose levels to pointing out the positive impact that yesterday’s exercise had on their overall health. Appreciating the improvement, creates more improvement.

3 reasons why appreciation is so important

Creates a positive environment

Negativity and judgement begets negativity and judgement. Appreciation and positive reinforcement begets positive attitudes and drive. I’ve seen both approaches and the one that always works and creates long-lasting employee loyalty, happiness and great work is appreciation, period.

Recognizing efforts, creates an improvement mindset

Appreciation has a side-effect that some might not realize. It opens people up to feedback and opportunities for improvement. If someone understands what they do well, they will do more of it, but they will also seek out  advice on what they can do to improve and mature as well.

Allows for confident focus on improvement areas

Appreciation naturally gives people confidence. They feel good about what they’re doing and are ready to do more. It also opens up an opportunity for you to share with them areas where they can improve. With their newly boosted confidence, they can proceed into these improvement areas enthusiastically.

Have you experienced and benefitted from true appreciation that made you want to get-better and do more? 


Robin Beadle