Charles Starrett

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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.

Appreciation builds culture

Why we do something matters. Which is why the push to have leaders show appreciation to their people more is misguided.

If the reason for doing something (like showing appreciation) is to get someone to feel something (such as feel appreciated) then you’re trying to do the impossible. Although we can temporarily inspire feelings, such as excitement, anger, or fear in another person, we can’t genuinely make another person feel anything.

Long lasting feelings come from the person’s own lived experience. And humans are very good at picking up on something phony. Nobody is going to truly feel appreciated when what they really feel is that you’re checking off a box on your list of things leaders should do.

Why are there so many parodies of “corporate speak” and two-faced managers? Just because nobody calls you on it in the moment, doesn’t mean they aren’t seeing right through you.

Genuine appreciate is spontaneous, immediate, and relevant to the relationship. And genuine appreciation is key to building a healthy culture.

As we notice and express appreciation for what people do to make things better, even small acts, we’re saying, “What you’re doing is making us all better.” It encourages the person to do more of that, it gives a tangible example to others of who you could be as an organization, and it builds a better culture for everyone.

So practice appreciation, not to “build morale,” but to build a culture that everyone can appreciate.

29 June 2022

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