I want to share about a position I held as an intern- I started off the ambitious go-getter that jives with my personality. People liked the work I did, and I was rewarded financially. In the beginning, people noticed that I did good work. They noticed that I cared about my clients, and about my learning process. I was pretty happy in that job for several years. Until one day- I realized or began to believe that I was just a number. To be honest, a lot of us that are women get this realization when we get pregnant for the first time. For me, it was when I got pregnant the 2nd time.
I let my job know the news of my pregnancy, and the subsequent label of being high risk from the start. I let them know out of respect for my position, and for my boss. Immediately, I was told they could not accommodate me (a top biller at the time). They told me I could reduce my case load, and see if I could still meet the requirements, and if not- they would reduce my hours and my pay to half time.
THAT was the EXACT moment I realized that I was just a number. A money sign. When I was killing my billable hours- they heard CHA CHING, not “I’m a person who wants you to love me”. That’s exactly what I was looking for- love, admiration, and appreciation for who I was as a worker and as a person, and I wasn’t getting it there. After the birth of my 2nd child, burn out happened immediately. My billable hours were average. I refused to go above and beyond, and I eventually left the company. It left a clear impression about the importance of appreciation.
The truth about appreciation
How often do we hear how being unappreciated makes people feel? Stay at home moms often feel unappreciated for the hours of work they put in to keeping their households running. Providers often feel unappreciated for the long, draining hours they put in at work to make sure there is food on the table. At work, being unappreciated just makes us feel worthless and unimportant.
If you feel unappreciated at your job- start speaking out. Demand appreciation- and not the monetary kind. Let your supervisor know that you want to know what you are doing well at, and you want to know that the company appreciates it. You want to know that you are making a difference… that you personally are making a difference. That pot of afternoon coffee you just brewed- is appreciated. Trust me, sometimes that afternoon pick me up is how I get through the day- and it means a lot to me in the work place and personally. Without it, how would I deal with my 2 screaming toddlers who refuse to eat their dinner after I just worked a 10 hour day. I want you to be seen because I see you. We need to start being ok with talking about how other people positively impact our lives. Demand people appreciate you, and START to appreciate others.
How can we start a culture of appreciation?
Send out personal and group emails thanking and appreciating people of individual things they have done that affected you personally or professionally…
Tell people how their work at the company is changing society, is working towards a larger goal…
Celebrate people’s life events- birthdays, marriages, promotions, new babies…
Celebrate people for being who they are- notice that they are different!