Humans have a deeply felt need to be appreciated and respected. In a Gallup Business Journal article, senior editor Jennifer Robison explains how brain chemistry – specifically dopamine – impacts human feelings and behaviour. This article looks at why it’s important for leaders to appreciate their team.

Appreciate Your Team With Praise

Dopamine stimulates parts of the human brain that process rewards and creates positive emotions (joy, satisfaction, etc.). Receiving recognition at work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure.

Gallup’s engagement survey data reveal that less than one in three American workers strongly agrees that they have received any praise from a supervisor in the previous seven days. How often do YOU express appreciation to the people around you (at work or in your personal life)?

Internal beliefs block praise

Why don’t bosses praise others more frequently? It could be that bosses’ internal beliefs block any promptings to praise others.

One of my clients has a highly secured workplace. There are security officers at all staff entrances. Employees must have ID cards, and visitors must be escorted by vetted employees.

One busy morning, a food service employee was catering a meeting in one of the lobby conference rooms. A wheel on her cart got stuck as she passed the entrance kiosk, dumping pastries and coffee everywhere.  The security officer nearby kept calm and began helping, calling the cafeteria for another service cart, and informing maintenance of the need for clean up. At the same time, he kept scanning employees, greeting visitors, and arranging escorts.

Later that day, when, I saw the security chief, I praised his worker. “Man, Officer Williams did an excellent job juggling everything this morning. You affirmed him for his efforts, right?”

“No, I did not,” the chief said with a grimace. Dead serious, he continued, “If he had jumped over the counter and stretched out to catch the carafes before they broke, THAT would have deserved praise.”

As you might conclude, the officers under this chief’s command did not receive praise very often, even though they continued to provide impressive customer service under trying conditions.

Just doing their job

Maybe you have similar internal beliefs as the chief. Maybe you feel like someone should not be praised for “just doing their job.” Many bosses view their work as managing processes and results, but if you think of the best boss in your career, it is quite likely he/she also affirmed you.

Managing individual and team energy

Great leaders appreciate their team because they see their jobs as managing people’s energy.

We all do many things well each day–more than we realize. When you attune to your team’s good work, and actively reinforce them, you are building better relationships.

These kinds of relationships, over time, become the ones people describe with “I would do anything for him/her.” These are the kind of relationships where people WANT to be at work and produce results because, in part, they appreciate a boss who appreciates them.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration.

He writes books and articles and records podcasts.

In his free time, he’s a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.