Think Your Team Feels Appreciated? Think Again

A simple formula for bosses who want to get employee appreciation right.

Dec 10, 2020
Management and Organization

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  A lot of managers think they do a great job recognizing the efforts of their team members. Most don’t, says Maryland Smith’s Rob Sheehan.

It’s a major problem, says Sheehan, who teaches management and organization at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Leaders know they need their team members to be at their best in order for the organization to be successful. And most leaders think they’re doing plenty to acknowledge the efforts of their teams. But the research tells a different story.

“We call this an illusion of transparency,” says Sheehan, who is also the academic director of Maryland Smith’s EMBA program. “People think that they're appreciating others, but the people when you ask them, are like, ‘No, I don't think so. Not so much.’ ”

So what can leaders do to change that? The solution comes down to two things, says Sheehan – giving feedback that’s sincere, and scheduling time to do it regularly.

“Key to this whole thing is this old saying where you can't fake sincerity,” he says. “Make sure that you are frequently talking to your team, giving them feedback. Tell them how much you appreciate them.”

And make sure it’s not an afterthought, shouted over a shoulder as you exit the workplace or click “end call” on a weekly video conference meeting. Sheehan urges leaders, no matter how busy they are, to avoid the old, “Oh, by the way, good job.”

“The time is valuable; it's an investment in the performance of your team,” he says.



About the Expert(s)


Rob Sheehan has more than thirty years of executive management experience, including eighteen years as the CEO of two different national nonprofits. His research and academic publications are focused on leadership, strategy, and organizational effectiveness. His background and experiences have included serving as CEO of LeaderShape, Inc. from 1992-2001 and CEO of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity & Educational Foundation from 1981-90.

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Robert H. Smith School of Business
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