Skip to main content

Books: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

As I continue to grow as a leader in a large high school, one of the things that I have intentionally been working on is how to motivate, encourage and strengthen the people that work with me. There are any number of factors that can make working in a school difficult: tough classes, tough schedules, tightening budgets, increased standards, and difficulties with students, parents or colleagues. With all of this going on (as it does in just about every school), it can start to wear or strain a staff. So how do we motivate, encourage and strengthen with all of this going on?

Recently, our counseling department picked up the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White, as a book study for their team. It seemed helpful and a worthwhile endeavor for them, so I too decided to read it. If you have ever read The 5 Love Languages or The 5 Love Languages of Children, a lot of what is covered will feel familiar. What is new is how it applies to organizations. Individuals within any organization, and schools especially, can benefit from systems that both recognize and appreciate the individuals that work in them.  The 5 Languages of Appreciation are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Tangible Gifts and Physical Touch (major disclaimers are used for this last one because of the workplace scenario and appropriateness).

The authors argue that people have a primary and secondary language that they prefer to receive appreciation in and that people tend to give in the way that they prefer to receive. There are so many important pieces to understanding how all of this works that I would really recommend anyone who works with others (which should be just about everyone) to pick up this book. Appreciation is a two way street and everyone can benefit from the positive outcomes that come when we learn to do this for each other. This is true whether or not your working relationships are within an egalitarian group or within a hierarchical structure. Chapman and White summarize this relationship here while also distinguishing appreciation from recognition:
Recognition is about improving performance and focuses on what is good for the the company. Appreciation emphasizes what is good for the company and good for the person (which may sometimes mean helping them find a position that is better for them than their current role).
The relational direction of recognition is top-down, coming from leadership. Appreciation, on the other hand, can be communicated in any direction. Colleagues want to know how to encourage and support one another. (pg 23) 
I like to think that in the work I do, I already take the time to both recognize and appreciate those around me. However, as the authors have noted, it can be difficult for people to prioritize this important component of work. In my case in particular I am a task oriented person and can easily get lost in making sure that all of the t's are getting crossed and the i's dotted. With a task oriented personality such as my own, I have to carve out intentional chunks of time to make appreciating colleagues a priority. And of course with a personality trait so strong as that, it probably would not surprise anyone to find out that a task oriented person such as myself has the primary language of Acts of Service.

My only questions now are: what is your language and how can I best appreciate you?


Popular posts from this blog

Iron Chef New Tech: Cooking With Authenticity In Your Projects

Written by Steffany Batik with many thanks to the instructional leadership team that helped make this learning experience happen: Norrie Brassfield (a special thanks to Norrie for setting up the contacts with our Coppell neighbors and for considerable legwork on getting the baskets set up), Carolyn Daniel, Anthony Hufford, Brandy Osterberger, Raheela Shaikh, Garrett Voelker.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend my first New Tech Annual Conference (NTAC) with a few of our staff members. One of the sessions I went to was a competition-based session dubbed PBL Chopped. In the session, school teams competed against each other to create the "tastiest" project using secret standards, a project slide template, and about 20 minutes on the clock. After observing this session and sharing with the other members of our team at NTAC, we felt that this could be an experience we could use for the facilitators in our building in a future staff development.

Fast forward several mo…

The Secret to Leading a School: Stay in Love

I had a moment this past week where I was walking around campus and things were just clicking. I was so in love with what I saw, that I went back to my post in the media center (where I prefer to spend my time instead of the office) and grabbed my cell phone so that I could take some pictures. The reason I felt so in love at that particular moment was that we were able to turn a schedule design challenge into something that would directly benefit our learners; and I was seeing the benefits to our learners in action! Our design issues was around the movement of our campus to a modified block bell schedule AND still trying to make time for our cross-grade level advisories that we call Networking. The result of that was the development of flexible days where learners sing up to go to particular classes as needed (or as required). 
What I saw on my walk of the building was the idealization of our goal to provide flexible scheduling to meet needs. There were learners who were having one on…

Fun Staff Holiday Idea: Up-Cycled School Shirts

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual musings, but I hope you'll find reading the content to be as fun as it was to live it!!

A week before the Thanksgiving break, I was sitting in the cafeteria with a couple of coworkers and our minds began to wander to the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Well, once that started to happen, it wasn't long before we were talking about ways to make that time fun since it would otherwise be filled with end of semester projects, exams, and grades. From that conversation, was the birth of the idea to up-cycle some of our old school t-shirts. 

The rules of the staff shirt up-cycle game:

use an old staff or school shirtdecorate it for the holidaysbest decorated shirt wins a prize (and honestly, it was so much fun I am bringing everyone something on Monday who participated)When you throw something like this out, you never know who will participate. Some educators received a little (cough) help. Some decorated their shirts on thei…

Currently Reading