Infographic “How To” Post 7: Valued

This is part 7 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay7You might be wondering how “valued” and “appreciated” are different.  After all, they are both about acknowledging an employees’ contribution.  I would also say they are similar because you need to genuinely appreciate and value your employees to show that you appreciate and value them!

And lastly, when you show appreciation, it can make an employee feel valued. Whew.

To me the big difference is how you measure these two things, and because value is about worth, there is a tangible representation of worth that every employee gets.

Their paycheck.

So going back to post #1, at least part of an employees’ value to the organization will be determined by a set of numbers on a deposit slip.  But, if we allow that to be the only determining factor of value, we are missing a tremendous opportunity to convey to our employees just how valuable they are to us.

The reason that the paycheck can’t be the only measure of value is because we are dealing with people, not a product or commodity.  You can say it costs $3 to build a widget, so the value (before adding profit margin) is $3.  Of course, the “consumer” value for that widget is going to be based on what price a store can charge.  In the employee world, it’s not an apples to apples comparison because people have emotions and feelings which are HUGE factors in determining value.

Going back to ‘worth’ for just a minute, when people say they don’t get paid enough to do something, they often say “it’s not worth it”.  What they are really saying is that it’s not worth their time, their effort, or extending themselves beyond their comfort zones.

When you look up the word worth, it’s about equality.

Worth – equivalent in value to the sum or item specified

The ‘item specified’ in our case could be a task or an extra shift, or heck, if we aren’t doing the rest of the things right on this infographic, it could be their daily job duties.  So we have to be able to equate the value of what they are doing with the value of what they get out of it – which isn’t all about money.

People like and need to get paid, yes.  However, people also have this need to be involved, to be productive, and to know that they are doing something important, otherwise they are just wasting their time.

Have you seen people who felt like they were wasting their time?  It’s not pretty.

So we ask ourselves: Are my employees doing something important?  Is their role (and how they perform it) critical to guest service, revenue, efficiency, safety, team morale, etc.?  I would argue that yes, what our employees do is important (and valuable).  Why would we pay them to do it if it wasn’t?  At the same time, why do we continue to pay employees when they are no longer providing value?

You mean, like stop paying them?  No, I mean let them go.  Set them free. End the employment relationship.  If there is one thing that is undermining your ability to convey just how valuable employee 1 is, it’s keeping on employee 2, who is a slacker and doing just enough to not get fired. If I were employee 1 (doing the same job as employee 2), I wouldn’t think what I was doing was very valuable because employee 2 was still allowed to it.

And yes, you probably need employee 2 to fill a spot on the schedule, but other than that, they aren’t doing you any favors.

So if you value your employees, and you feel they bring value to the organization, how do we SHOW employees that they are valuable (so they’ll stay)?  Glad you asked.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rid yourself of slackers. I’m serious.  If they’ve been coached, and they just aren’t coming around (or aren’t a good fit for the team or company), cut your losses. Doing this shows how much you REALLY value the valuable employees for their worthy contributions.  Like it or not, employees compare EVERYTHING.  “I’m making the same amount as everyone else, but they don’t follow the rules, don’t come in on time or treat the guests well.  What the heck am I doing all that for?”  You have control over that value proposition.
  • Communicate value and worthiness.  Employees don’t auto-magically know how valuable they are. It’s tough sometimes to see past your current task and fathom how it all fits into the big picture.  It’s up to you to communicate to the ride operator, retail clerk or custodial attendant just how important their job is… not just in the context of what tasks they perform, but to the overall organization.  We do this through specific and sincere feedback, mentoring, and coaching.  We also do this by removing the word just when describing a position, job or assignment. He’s “just” a clerk, “just” go stand there and greet people.  You immediately remove any and all value that might have been previously implied.
  • Make working for you worth it. Remember in post #1 when we said that pay was only 1/10th of the overall compensation an employee gets, and that if that’s ALL they get (and by extension, all they’re worth) often they will say it’s not enough? Take that to heart and consider all of the other things that employees value.  Do they value personal development, communication, a team atmosphere, career growth, someone who will listen to them, challenge, involvement, feedback, customer service?  Do they have an interest or passion that we can tap into and put them in a position to use that on the job?  Don’t know?  Find out.  When others value what you value, or acknowledge your values as important, doesn’t that make the experience more worth it?

Ultimately, for your employees to stay, there is one question they will ask themselves everyday (and you likely ask yourself the same question).

Is this worth it?  If so, they will stay.

If not, they’ll eventually find a job that is worth it.

Next up: On A Mission

Thanks for reading!


About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

To appreciate people, you have to appreciate people

After my recent epic roller coaster-palooza trip, I noted in my recap that one thing I noticed was that the places with the best guest service also had leaders who were out-and-about  and visible to guests and employees.

One more roller coaster picture because... why not!

One more roller coaster picture because… why not??

While I’ll expound on that in the future, it also occurred to me that just being visible isn’t always a good thing.  If you are a jerk, maybe it’s best that people DON’T see you.

What got me thinking about this was looking back at some of the blogs and articles I’ve read about leadership best practices.  Many of them contain very good advice about recognizing the positive in people and showing appreciation for their contributions.  They may even say, “be visible to your employees!”  But if you are a jerky-jerk, that might back-fire.

What these articles fail to include (and I am probably guilty of this as well) is not mentioning one of the most important, foundational, critical and experience-influencing characteristics of all.

In order to show appreciation for people, you have to genuinely appreciate them and the work they do.

And sadly, that’s not always the case.

We can all tell the difference between sincere recognition and somewhat positive words being thrown at us by someone who thinks that’s what they are supposed to do.  The delivery is different, the tone is different, and the impact is different.

To appreciate simply means: to be grateful or thankful for, or to value or regard highly. 

Let’s see which of these sound more like you… how you view employees:

Leader A

  • Glad they are part of the team
  • Welcome their ideas and contributions
  • Interested in their development and growth

Leader B

  • A drain on your energy and time
  • Necessary evil
  • No-good slackers

I would love it if my Leader B descriptions were a little far-fetched, but experience tells me otherwise.  If that sounds like you, call me.  Seriously.  407-435-8084.  It’s very possible that you are the leader employees DON’T want to see.

If you related more with Leader A – WONDERFUL!  You probably already appreciate, recognize and value your employees. If you aren’t doing it, but you THINK it, it’s time to put those thoughts into action!

Like so many things, our actions are nothing more than the physical manifestations of our thoughts. You want to show GENUINE appreciation?  You’ve got to be genuinely appreciative.

Thanks for reading!


About the author:  Matt founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one goal in mind: to help leaders get the most out of themselves and their teams.  He does this through speaking engagements, training workshops and one-on-one coaching.  His book, the Myth of Employee Burnout outlines why some employees start off strong but eventually fizzle out. It has been called a “great resource” and “an eye-opener”.



Gators vs Eagles (not a sports reference)

Gators are almost synonymous with Florida.  The fact that a college mascot is named after them and that they have their own theme park should be a clue.  So, it’s probably no surprise that someone living here could get a little complacent, even nonchalant about the cold-blooded reptiles.  I realized this was me a few weeks ago.

When I visited Minnesota in April, I was talking to a friend about when Linda and I went to Alaska hoping to see bald eagles.  Eagles are much more common in Minnesota than Florida, and we joked that seeing eagles wouldn’t have been such a big deal for Minnesotans.  Then my friend said, “but you have alligators!”

In my mind I’m thinking, “so? Gators are everywhere”.  But then it dawned on me, “not if you live in Minnesota”.  So lesson learned – I want to see eagles, others may want to see gators.

Why is this a blog post? Because it made me think of how we can sometimes be so focused on what others CAN do, and by comparison, what we CAN’T do, that it really limits us – and we are doing it to ourselves!

In this industry, comparisons are commonly made to the “big boys” in terms of what they can deliver.  But how many of us think about what the “big boys” can learn from a smaller operation?  Maybe not terms of the hardware, but certainly in terms of the heart.

Being a student of the service industry, I am constantly watching for companies that “do it right”.  And recently, I have been more impressed with many of the smaller, even ‘mom & pop’ operations than I have been with some of the “big boys”.  I think it comes down to the environment that is created for the employees… try as they might, it seems inevitable that somewhere along the way, some (certainly not all) employees at larger companies start to feel like a number, and it’s a downward spiral from there.  There could be a thousand reasons for this, but I think one of the main causes is when employees don’t feel connected to what the company does, nor do they see how their behaviors impact the companies results.

On the other side of the coin, smaller operators could be better at communicating with their employees about just how important they are to the operation.  This could be through direction communication or just the fact that in small companies, people wear many hats and therefore, ARE very important.  Sometimes it’s easier to see your value that way.

Here are a few other thoughts to help communicate value:

  • Listen – Nothing says “you are valued” than really listening to someone.  Put down the phone and remove all distractions, and just listen.
  • Tie their behaviors to company values – Every company has a set of values or guiding principles, yet how many people on the front line really know how they impact those values.  Make it part of your coaching and feedback.
  • Acknowledge ideas and achievement – Few things feel better than when someone you respect gives you credit for an idea or accomplishment to others in their peer group.  “It was Ryan’s idea to change the queue, and it’s working out great!”

So, next time you (or someone you know) get’s hung up on what you can’t do based on budget or whatever, remember these points about communicating value – they don’t cost a dime.

Thanks for reading!

About the author: Matt Heller can solve a Rubik’s cube in 37 seconds, provided that you don’t mind the colors being mixed up.