A few months ago I got an unexpected — and very personal — lesson in the culture of appreciation. Imagine my surprise when, at the 4th Annual Strategic Play® UnConference for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitators and trainers in Whistler last October, I was presented with an award!

The evening before the UnConference officially started, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® trainers Rosa Mon and Anibal Viegas had been presented awards in a private ceremony just for Strategic Play® trainers

Then, the morning of the first day of the UnConference, co-host andLEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Master Trainer Jacqueline Lloyd-Smith completely caught me off guard when she announced that there was a third award, yet to be presented, and played the video below.

In thanks for building the Strategic Play Facilitator Network — a private online home for facilitators certified in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods and materials by the Strategic Play® Group, Ltd. — Jacquie then presented me with the Facilitator Development Award 2018.

I am honored!

Several months before, I had proposed to Jacquie that I build the network because I perceived a need (and honestly, because I wanted it for myself!), and I knew I had the expertise to make it happen. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect an award for it!

I’m quite sure my face turned beet red during the brief presentation. I was a bit embarrassed by all the kerfuffle, but underneath my embarrassment, the fact that Jacquie gave me this award meant the world to me.

No Culture of Appreciation = Toxicity

I’ve been a volunteer in another organization where I felt slighted, and although I hate to admit it, the lack of public acknowledgment — when others who seemed to be doing equivalent (or less) work were thanked publicly — left a bitter taste in my mouth. It has actually morphed me from a loyal ambassador to almost the opposite.

All because of the lack of a simple public “thank you.”

Yes, a culture of appreciation is that important. Appreciating people is so easy, yet when you forget to appreciate them your organization runs the risk of becoming more and more toxic over time.

Your acknowledgment doesn’t have to be a fancy awards ceremony, but public appreciation is important. People need to know they are valued, and that the work they do is appreciated.

How you choose to appreciate your people is part of your culture. The important thing is to be mindful about it.

What’s Your Culture of Appreciation?

Jacquie and the Strategic Play Group have created a phenomenal culture of loyal, diehard facilitators and trainers in no small part because of their attention to human needs, like the need for recognition and appreciation. Playfulness and attention to detail are important values for Jacquie, which you can see in the professionally-produced video, and the LEGO trophies (which were built by a Certified LEGO Professional!)

In your organization, the way you acknowledge people for their efforts should be stamped with your own cultural values.

It would be cognitive dissonance for a conservative financial services company to present someone with a trophy made of LEGO bricks. Engraved certificates presented at a formal, white tablecloth, sit-down dinner might be a better fit.

The important thing is to show that you see the person you are acknowledging. People who feel seen and appreciated are people who want to stick around and contribute to the continued growth of an organization.

What can you do to show appreciation for the people in your organization? 

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