‘Your call is highly valued by us… please wait for the next available colleague…’ We have all heard this or something similar when contacting call centres. Many of us will take it with a pinch of salt – we know that we feel valued as the result of actions over a period of time. Words on their own have little impact.
This has come to mind recently as we reviewed the most frequently expressed positive emotions in the Heartbeat surveys run by our clients. These have come from a range of survey types – engagement, pulse, events, consultation and one-offs.
The positive emotions were enthusiastic, inspired, empowered and valued. This got us wondering why being valued is so important, and what makes people feel it. To help answer, we spoke informally with people from the organisations concerned to find out what they thought.
Feeling valued does not just happen overnight
The conversations helped us to define what we mean by ‘valued’ and, in particular, how it differs from being appreciated or simply liked.
The general consensus was that feeling valued requires that someone demonstrates that they have seen worth in you and your contribution and regularly makes you aware of this.
It's something that is built over time and is therefore different from being appreciated, which can be a one-off. For people to feel truly valued, it must be reflected not just in what other people say, but also in what they do… and probably what they think.
For example, being involved in a variety of tasks, given challenges to tackle, asked for opinion on issues other than those directly related to their roles, all helped create a sense of value. As in so much of leadership, what leaders say must be reinforced by what they signal in what they do.
If time is crucial for people to feel valued, it is also vital for leaders to be able to really value someone. It is a deeper response than, say, appreciating a good piece of work. It can be the thing of a moment to acknowledge an act of kindness from a stranger, but to truly value someone and what they do requires far greater familiarity and understanding over a longer period.
One size does not fit all
This reinforces the importance of regular conversations – informal as well as formal – with members of their teams. Frequent discussions build bonds and present the leader with many opportunities to see and reflect back to people the worth they give to what their teams do.
At an organisation level, we have found that clients who use Heartbeat for regular pulse check surveys and then respond quickly to what people say also build up a sense of being listened to and valued. It rapidly becomes part of the culture and the way that people work with each other.
We also learned that when it comes to valuing members of the team, one approach does not fit everyone. Different things make different types of people feel valued. For some it’s regular attention, praise and recognition. Others look for quality time spent with the leader and the chance to talk things through, or they may prefer the occasional small gift as a thank you.
Once again, it’s crucial that leaders get to know their people and understand their preferences to help them feel really valued.
About Matt Stephens
Matt’s passion lies in Leadership, Culture and Employee Engagement. His experience as Founder of Heartbeat includes, amongst others working with Aviva, Britvic, Deloitte, ASOS, AIB, Morrisons, Heineken, NHS Trusts, Orange and Vauxhall, to enable inspiring leadership, develop culture and build engagement. It gives him a perspective and skill set in actually building Employee Engagement, group facilitation, leadership coaching and internal communications.
Matt regularly runs coaching workshops for Leaders and Managers to be better communicator’s, to deal effortlessly with change and improve their personal performance.
Outside of work he recently learnt to ski and hasn't looked back! He loves golf currently playing from a 10 handicap (for those of you who care!) and spends weekends watching his 3 sons play football. Matt is also a trustee for Love146.org - a charity fighting for the end of child slavery and exploitation. He’s proud to say he played a very small part in helping see the Modern Slavery Act become reality.