Raising collective appreciation of each other

by Prof David Clutterbuck

In high performing teams, people have a strong respect for each other’s competence, goodwill, honesty (trustworthiness), values and contribution. In teams with lower levels of performance, major gains in working climate and performance can be gained by taking a proactive approach to developing each of these attributes.

One of the simplest ways of raising collective appreciation is to ask everyone to look out for examples when other people have:

  • Delivered a task particularly well or shown expert knowledge
  • Performed an act of kindness or helpfulness
  • Demonstrated that they can be trusted (to deliver, to keep confidences etc)
  • Exemplified the team values
  • Gone outside their formal job role to assist a colleague

Because people like to be appreciated, being thanked for these behaviours makes them more likely to do those same things more frequently in future. It also makes the person, who gave the thanks, more likely to notice positive behaviours and be even more appreciative. (By contrast, when positive behaviours are not noticed and/or not acknowledged, they become less likely.)

A simple adaptation of this principle is for everyone in the team to write for each of their colleagues one thing they are going to do to make their life easier. This promise is sealed in an envelope and only opened a month later, when the person and their colleague are together. The colleague is asked what they think is in the envelope. After they reply, they open the envelope to see if they were correct. Frequently, they will end up saying “Oh yes, and you did that too!” – simply making someone aware that you are trying to be helpful makes them notice more!