A good friend called me the other day. She’s feeling down, down, down about her job. Never has she felt so unappreciated. Morale is at an all-time low. Undervalued, forgotten about, not consulted – that’s how she experiences her day-to-day reality.
It was strange to get this call from her; never would I categorize her as a “complainer”. Something has shifted.
Can you relate? I know I can.
There’s been times in my career when I really haven’t felt valued and it’s incredibly deflating. You may feel that you don’t want to give much more than you have to because you know they are going to take it; you don’t feel you are getting much in return.
One of the things I shared with her is the need to feel appreciated and valued is a basic emotional need that we have. One of the fathers of modern day psychology, Carl Rogers, provided this over the course of his long career.
As a recognition expert, I see the impact of organizations and teams where people are valued and their uniqueness is appreciated. Their contributions and successes are celebrated and shared. They have an important role. I also see the negative impact on relationships, productivity, intention to stay and focus when people don’t feel valued.
There is a spectrum of reactions depending on how valued individuals feel. As a result, there are many reactions. Here’s a free resource for you to better understand and have conversations in your workplace about how valued people feel and natural reactions: Feel Valued? 4 Possible Reactions.
4 Reactions to Feeling (or Not Feeling) Valued
The antagonist can create a bit of a ground swell. If you don’t feel valued, maybe you are going to check in to see if others don’t feel valued. If you don’t feel valued, then maybe we are not going to offer any more discretionary value. It’s a more passive-aggressive way managing the overwhelming frustration of coming into work every day when you don’t feel appreciated. We have to deal with our human emotion and lack of feeling appreciated somehow. For some, “stirring the pot” is what brings attention to the important issues with value of people and their contributions.
The anarchist has a reaction in moments not feeling valued. It’s like something sparks a visceral reaction. It’s a more aggressive way of describing that inner sense of your need to feel appreciated. When you’re not being valued, you can make my presence known in another way. And it will be very hard to ignore!
The apathist is the person who does the absolute minimum. It’s not that you are lazy or bored, it’s that you feel so uninspired, unappreciated, underutilized you choose to give your attention and energy elsewhere. It’s a passive approach – you come in, do what you need to get done, you leave. You don’t feel you matter anyway, so a little less effort won’t be noticed. It might be a test if anyone will notice – you feel invisible as well as unappreciated.
The largest majority of folks I find in the workplace are activists. You try to advocate, get people involved. When you notice some of the signs (any of the above four reactions), you try to acknowledge others and rally them. You’re not necessarily a cheerleader, you truly believe everyone has value, so you find ways to demonstrate that in your words and actions. People are loyal and trust you as a result. There are lots of ways people can play the activist role, but the common factor is the activist sees their job as trying to help people feel valued in their own small way.
I share these four ways as I am sure you have played all four of these parts at some point in your career. I know I have! Which one are you now? Are there some members of your team that are important contributors and yet demonstrating behaviours that aren’t so helpful? Are you ready to be an activist for them now if you currently are not?
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