Think back over your career, including jobs you may have done as a teenager like mowing lawns or babysitting. Which job was the hardest? Which the most rewarding?
What was it about those jobs that makes you think of them in those terms? The physical labor or mental effort involved? The sense of pride and self accomplishment from a job well done? Praise and appreciation from others?
I’ve written before about one of the hardest jobs I’ve had – selling encyclopedias door-to-door. Aside from the actual work of schlepping door to door and the constant rejection, what made that job particularly hard was the senseless recognition every single one of us salespeople received when we reconvened at the end of the day. “Cheeriest smile.” “Most doors knocked on.” “Farthest distance walked.” It didn’t matter what the recognition was for as long as everyone was recognized for something.
“Day in and day out I washed glasses, dishes, pots and pans. I think it was the hardest job I have ever completed. Only one of the waiters would come up to me at the end of a shift to say ‘thank you.’ This simple, genuine ‘thank you’ was so warming to my soul that it would make me feel motivated enough to come back into work the next day. … I walked away with from that job knowing what a huge difference it makes if someone feels appreciated.”
Sincere appreciation can be the most motivating thing you can do for a colleague, peer or employee – regardless of the job itself. Beyond motivation and encouragement, research shows a simple “thank you” can increase productivity 31%.
How would being recognized and appreciated have changed your hardest job?
About Derek Irvine
The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.