Paycheck Does Not Equal Appreciation

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By on March 6, 2015 in Current Events, Leadership with 23 Comments

How do you feel when you get your paycheck each week? Do you feel appreciated for your work?

Or do you feel… not seen, not appreciated, like just another cog in the government wheel?

And supervisors, how many times has this thought crossed your mind:

“My direct reports complain they don’t feel appreciated. APPRECIATED? REALLY? I mean they get paid every two weeks. Is that not appreciation enough?!”

Ahh yes… this is a classic Mindset Mistake. It’s the Mindset Mistake that says Paycheck = Appreciation

Let me explain.

Do you remember your high school psychology days, and ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’? That was the pyramid that had basic needs like food and shelter on the bottom, then safety/security, then belonging, then self-esteem, and then self-actualization on the top.

While this is a simplified version of the model, there are two important things for you to know:

1) The need to feel appreciated, like you matter, to feel that someone knows you exist as a human is a human need that is hardwired into our DNA.

2) For many people, appreciation is also tied to a feeling of safety and security. ‘Does my boss know I’m here? Am I doing ok? Am I secure in my job?’

In these days of tight budgets and limited promotions, appreciation is more important than ever!

Now it’s true – appreciation won’t pay the bills. Appreciation will, however, help you and those around you be more tolerant, more resilient, and more creative when it comes to meeting the challenges of the job.

(Not a supervisor? Your boss needs appreciation too. So do your spouse and kids!)

Showing appreciation is easy to do.

For the next two weeks I want you to try this:

Deliberately NOTICE when someone in your office or life does something that leaves you feeling supported, encouraged, inspired, or otherwise makes your world a better place.

Then, TELL THEM about it!

Start the sentence with “What I appreciate about you is___________” and fill in the blank.

In a lot of ways, spreading appreciation is a lot like Smile Sniping. It’s a way to connect with a person, on a human-to-human basis and make sure that other person knows that they are seen, they are supported, and they are appreciated for their contributions. Spreading appreciation allows you to connect soul-to-soul and contribute to that other person feeling safe and secure.

So I challenge you to spread the appreciation. Try spreading honest appreciation, every day, the next two weeks and see how your life changes.

If you don’t feel appreciated in your life, it may be because you aren’t using your gifts and talents as much as you could be. Visit where you can take the Greatness Quiz. The Greatness Quiz will show you areas where you’re using your gifts… and where you’re not!

© 2017 Martha Austin. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Martha Austin.

About the Author

With more than 24 years as a federal employee, first as an active duty Army officer and later a Foreign Service officer, staff leadership instructor and professional coach, Martha understands what it means to simultaneously feel inspired by the desire to serve and stifled by the “needs of the service.” Martha is on a mission to create public institutions that ignite success, prosperity and joy for EVERYONE they touch – especially those in them.