What Was I Missing?

Guest post by Luis Martínez

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Looking at my work and life experience from both sides of the desk – as an employee, and as a manager and even company owner – I ask myself: what was I feeling when things weren’t going right? When the world seemed out of balance? When I had done the work, given it my all, and it still didn’t taste good? Even when I was well paid? Or when I was paying others well? What was up? What was I missing?

What I was missing was – appreciation.

Think about it. Why do you sometimes feel an emptiness after having done a great job chasing down a problem for a customer? What is that kick in the stomach feeling when the boss seems oblivious to great results from your efforts, and instead picks on some trifling detail? If you are a manager or business owner, why do you shrug and shake your head when an employee leaves your business after training them and teaching them a new craft for months, or years?

Appreciation would have made all the difference.

I am fortunate to be able to say that, other than my temporary jobs as a graduate student, I have always been paid what I asked for, and then some, particularly in the last decade when my compensation was more than sufficient. Yet, there were days, there were days when I felt, well – unappreciated. We each have our own measure, we each recognize an exquisite balance between tangible compensation (salary, bonus, benefits, insurance plans, company car, window office, etc.) and intangibles (a smile, a letter of gratitude, a congratulatory email, a pat on the back, a warm referral, etc.). When either tangible or intangible compensation is out of proportion to the other, we know it. At the extremes, we won’t stay in a company where we are paid appropriately, or even well, but the management or the culture is unappreciative, or even toxic. We each have examples: I once quit a company that was the top in its industry, with very interesting, even prestigious line of work, but the mental abuse nullified my handsome salary. So money is not enough.

On the other end, if you work for a company that is cash strapped, and the owner / management is very well behaved, very friendly, accessible, approachable and – appreciative – but misses payroll from time to time, well, you have only so much patience for them. Appreciation is good. But you still need to pay your bills.

Appreciation is appreciated on both sides of the desk. The manager / owner wants to see smiles and words of appreciation from its employees who recognize the opportunity presented to them by its employment or contractual relationship. The employee / contracted worker is grateful to managers for expressions of a job well done, of a customer appreciating a problem resolved, of recognition from peers. We all need that.

Let’s be the change we want to see. Turn to someone, now – let them know how much you appreciate them.

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This is a guest post by Luis Martínez who has been a trusted coach and advisor for many years. His strategic management consulting firm, Gran Altura, Inc., offers his valuable services and talents to organizations in transition.

While in Xerox, Luis directed global human resources functions for Worldwide Manufacturing. He had been SVP of HR at Lehigh Valley Hospital and VP & GM of Exide Batteries in Puerto Rico.

Luis has a B.A. and M.Ed., from the University of Delaware. Born and raised in Cuba, Luis is bilingual and bicultural. He authored a career development book, Getting There: Strategies and Tactics for Career Decisions.

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