Imagine this scenario: a leader prioritizes showing appreciation for employees. The leader is routinely writing thank you notes, visiting different branches, and calling other leaders just to check-in. This leader shares with you that investing time in this way is just as important as any other aspect of their work. What’s your reaction to this?
- “Yeah, that sounds great, but who in the real world has the time to do this?”
- “Are you kidding me? I’m not getting paid to ‘check-in’ on people and write sweet notes. We have work to do!”
Most leaders would admit that employees should feel valued and could even identify ways how they can display this to their employees (e.g., thank you notes, site visits, etc.). Where some leaders fall short is execution. It’s not whether we want people to feel valued; it’s whether we actively prioritize it amid the litany of tasks, projects, and initiatives that come to us as leaders. Prioritization bridges the gap between our intentions and our actions. When a practice is prioritized, steps are taken to ensure they’re implemented. Utilizing an adapted version of Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix, we can examine if we prioritize valuing employees. Covey’s matrix provides a framework for how individuals prioritize tasks based on urgency and level of importance.
- Not urgent and not important: This quadrant includes tasks that do not require immediate action and have little significance. Think about the last time you demonstrated to your employees you value them. When is the last time you felt pressure to acknowledge their value? If a recent memory doesn’t come to mind, then it’s possible this task to you is not urgent or important. Employees who do not feel valued are more likely to be disengaged, dissatisfied with their job, and have higher turnover rates. If leaders believe these risks should be minimized, they must prioritize employees feeling valued. One action step to take is to identify individuals to hold you accountable and provide you with reminders to go out of your way to display your appreciation for your employees.
- Not urgent but important: Many leaders will relate to this quadrant. Included here are tasks that do not require immediate action but the task is important. Many leaders acknowledge it is important to show employees they’re valued, but due to other responsibilities they have, it is not a pressing task. If you find yourself in this quadrant, you understand the importance of prioritizing this task, but you’ll need to get it on a schedule to create some urgency. Have intentional time set aside in your schedule to demonstrate to your employees they are valued.
- Urgent but not important: Leaders identifying with this quadrant recognize their employees need to feel valued immediately but perceive there are more important tasks to work on. If the importance of a task is not recognized, it is difficult to make it a priority. These leaders also need to deeply dive into understanding this task’s importance (as discussed in quadrant 1). Although this task may not be important to you, understanding the importance to your employees should prompt you to action. Making employees feel valued does not have to be time consuming and interfere with other important tasks; it only takes a couple minutes to write a gratitude email to employees or to record a video of yourself expressing appreciation. Remember, the success of an organization is only possible because of the valuable employees supporting the mission.
- Urgent and Important: This quadrant includes tasks that are of the highest priority. Leaders in this quadrant understand showing employees they’re valuable is an immediate and significant need. These leaders recognize the task of valuing employees is critical to organizational success, and it routinely requires action.
Reflection: It can be tempting to let other tasks get in the way of expressing to employees they’re valued, but this is a pressing and important task. How well do you prioritize your employees feeling valued?