what do you like about your job, part 2

by Ask a Manager on August 24, 2011

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I loved reading the responses to the “what do you like about your job?” post. We traffic so frequently in bad workplace situations here that reading about positive elements was a nice change of pace.

I have a step 2 to propose:  Why not tell whoever’s responsible for the thing you cited how much you appreciate it?  If you love your coworkers, tell them and tell them why. If your boss is great, tell her what she does that you appreciate (believe me, she probably rarely hears it). If it’s some particular aspect of your job, mention to your manager how much you love that; you just may get more of it thrown you way in the future, or even end up on a path that fits in more strongly with what you love. You get the idea.

We so rarely tell people this sort of thing, and people so appreciate hearing it.

(This wasn’t my intention from the beginning, by the way — I wasn’t tricking you into some kind of exercise in voicing appreciation. But reading over all the responses, I was struck by how nice it might be for people to hear this.)

{ 28 comments }

Katy O August 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I’d love to tell them all but a large group of us got laid off. :( It was fun while it lasted.

Anonymous J August 31, 2011 at 10:30 am

Oh, no! I’m so very sorry! :(

Sabrina August 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I didn’t post but most of mine were stuff like “My boss isn’t a sociopath” “the air conditioning works most days” “I have a desk of my very own instead of having to find a new one every day” I guess I could thank my boss for not being a case study in a psych textbook, but if I thank facilities I’m afraid they might start slacking off and the a/c will break again. Not sure who’s responsible for the “everyone gets their own desk” thing. In the last few years, I’ve set my standards pretty low.

Anonymous August 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Thank my coworkers? For what?

Ok, I didn’t post on the other one with a good one, and I didn’t want to rain on your parade. But really, when I think about it, I don’t have anything to thank my coworkers for. Although…I can thank them for making me the official department doormat.

Ask a Manager August 24, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Well, that sucks. But lots of people posted over there about loving their coworkers and feeling grateful for them and many other aspects of their jobs. I don’t know that it’s useful to discourage an appreciation of that.

Anonymous August 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

I totally get what you are discussing. Right now, it’s very hard to relate to this topic in my world right now. I wish I was able to appreciate my coworkers. Had it been this time last year, I would have totally been on the same page, but since then, it seems like two of them especially have gotten to be somewhat rude and a “I don’t give a bleep about the people I work with.” I work part-time in shifts, and with some who have decided the summer is their oasis and take time off every possible chance, it left me with working the majority of the summer, incapable of making any last minute plans because there would be no one else to cover.

Sorry to put a damper on the parade, and I totally get what you are saying. Unlike a comment stated below, it’s not cheesy. People do need to be shown appreciation. It’s just hard for me and I’m sure some other people to relate right now, but then again, it’s probably like that at any time.

Ask a Manager August 25, 2011 at 9:59 am

I’m sorry you’re going through that! My advice: Find something, doesn’t matter how small, and tell someone at work you appreciate them for it. It could be a tiny thing. Tell them anyway. It will impact the relationship in a good way, which will impact your life in a good way, even if small.

Anonymous J August 31, 2011 at 10:33 am

Don’t worry. You are not alone.

I DID answer the previous one. I sat for a minute and thought long and hard about what I CAN love or appreciate about my current job (there isn’t much,) and you know what? I found a couple of things.

Good luck in finding a better situation. I’ve been trying myself for a long time, and if I did not take the time to remember what’s good, even about the worst situation, I’d probably go insane.

;)

LP August 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

I think this is a really nice idea. We so often feel under-appreciated and wish people would take the time to say something nice or consider what we do. At the same time, we don’t consider that everyone around us feels the same way. It would probably make your co-worker or managers day or week if you took the time to tell them that they make your job more enjoyable. I know it would for me

Anon y. mouse August 25, 2011 at 1:36 am

Good idea. The things I like about my job are more inherent to the work, but I have a newly promoted manager who’s doing a great job. I’ll be sure to tell him so next time I get the chance.

Anonymous August 25, 2011 at 7:32 am

I didn’t post on the first post (only saw it today) but I *just* wrote about that on my blog yesterday:

“My old boss was a micro manager. She got irritated, when I did ANYTHING on my own, wanted to see everything, etc. Strangely enough she also got irritated, when I knocked on her door too often.

My new boss is totally different. He trusts my judgement and isn’t interested in being involved in every single detail. He’s there when I struggle with a task but doesn’t feel the need to be involved in every little step. And he lets me know that he’s happy with the quality of my work, that he really feels that I’m contributing and that he’s positively surprised by how much I’ve been taking on so fast.

A world of a difference between these two people.”

I left my old job, because even though I was very open about the many things that made me unhappy there and also came up fairly reasonable suggestions for improvment (things I couldn’t do on my own, where I needed the boss) nothing ever happened. She always said “Great idea!” and didn’t act.

In the new job I feel like my effort is appriciated. And that makes me happy.

JT August 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

This is a good idea – I’ve done it, but probably not often enough. Most recently at an organizational retreat I said the key things for me are the people I work with are nice, and I have occasional opportunities to meet amazing leaders and social entrepreneurs from around the world. I work in a global nonprofit organization.

Karyn August 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

I have absolutely no managerial authority, but whenever a coworker does something particularly helpful or thoughtful, I like to send them an email and CC their manager on it. Otherwise, I figure their manager has no way to know, and they can give my coworker the benefit of having it in their review.

As an aside, I’ve also found that doing this has a way of coming back around – more than once, a coworker has done the same for me with my manager.

Jamie August 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

I do this, as well – even for people I have no authority over whatsoever.

I have never been a fan of the compliment sandwich (say something nice – critical feedback – something else nice) – but I am a firm believer in when someone goes out of there way, or is particularly good at something or helpful – especially if they aren’t obligated to do so per their job description – I’ll send an email and cc their manager and/or HR (depending on the situation.)

If I would point out an area for improvement (and I would…and I do…as an internal auditor it’s officially my job) I also feel it’s my duty to point out the good stuff.

I do it because it’s fair, but the side benefit is that no one has cut my brakes after an audit.

Anonymous August 25, 2011 at 9:10 am

Sorry but you’re getting a little cheesy. Sounds like the Ordinary Marys Extraordinay Deed childrens book.

Ask a Manager August 25, 2011 at 9:28 am

Sorry, but I’ve been recommending this kind of thing for some time. June 2007: http://www.askamanager.org/2007/06/compliment-your-coworkers-and-cc-their.html

So I’ve apparently been a cheeseball from the start.

Nethwen August 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

It’s not cheesy if done sincerely. I do this occasionally and it is always well received. I’ve even emailed supervisors years after I stopped working with them to tell them in what good ways they are still affecting me. Without fail, the person responds along the lines of “you don’t know how much this means to me; all I ever get told is what people don’t like.”

Fake niceness is cheesy. Sincere kindness is uplifting.

Jamie August 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

I did that once, with a former boss who was the ultimate mentor.

I had left that company and when I was promoted at my new job I sent him an email to thank him and let him know how much I appreciated what he taught me, and how he championed my career.

I know he appreciated it because several months later he forwarded it back to me saying he pulled it up to reread whenever he was having a particularly crappy time at work – to remind himself that what he does matters. I had totally forgotten that I had dashed that note off to him all those months prior.

Not cheesy, because it was 100% sincere. There was nothing in it for me – but turns out I was glad I took the time to do it.

That said – I’ve never written a thank you note after an interview…so I’m lousy at doing it when it can benefit me.

Emily August 25, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I agree that if sincere, gratitude is not cheesy. And it can be a very powerful tool for organizations. I work in community development, and Asset-Based Community Development and its cousin, Appreciative Inquiry, are tools I’ve worked into my training programs the past couple years. They hold a lot of potential in more formal settings as well, such as the workplace.

The basic premise is that “the questions we ask determine what we find.” So in traditional management, we look for: What problems are you having? What or who caused the problem? How do we fix what is broken? But with an Appreciative Inquiry approach, we ask: What is working well? Why and how does it work? How do we amplify and build on what has meaning, value and energy?

Yes, there’s some hippy-dippy new-age words in there, but the premise is sound, and in line with this exercise Alison is promoting. One similar Appreciative Inquiry tool asks participants for a High Point Story, a time when they were involved in something significant, empowering and effective which gave everyone an opportunity to contribute their talents. If we analyze what has worked and is working, we can build on it.

A page with some good introductory resources about Appreciative Inquiry, if you’re interested: http://www.imaginechicago.org/inquiry.html

fposte August 25, 2011 at 9:48 am

There’s actually a fair amount of that around here, which is nice. And a lot of it happens in food :-).

Sinjin Smythe August 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise. Learned that many years ago and it continues to serve me well

Jo August 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Oh, I LOVE my job. And I have many reasons for that.

1. Commute: It’s 2.8 miles vs. 53 miles in my last job.
2. Great pay and perks
3. Great boss, awesome team
4. Very nice coworkers
5. I have my own office!
6. Flexible hours, no one is watching the clock for me.

And yes, I do mention to my boss and coworkers how happy I am to be here. They said the same thing to me as well. It’s always a great reminder how grateful we are where we are (when we are).

Awesome post, AAM. A great reminder, although I do that myself every so often, especially knowing how miserable I was last year in my previous job with a monster of a boss.

Jo August 25, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I LOVE my job, for many great reasons:

1. Commute: 2.8 miles from home vs. 53 miles in my old job last year.
2. Awesome boss, great team
3. Very nice coworkers
4. I have my own office!
5. Great pay, great perks/benefits
6. Flexible hours – no one is watching the clock for me

I do tell my boss and team and coworkers how happy I am to be here. And they tell me the same thing every now and then. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves about these things and it’s really easy for me especially since last year I was so miserable in my job.

Awesome post, AAM.

Emily August 25, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I came out as a closeted amateur financial planner, but haven’t yet sent some love to my real job.

I was a Peace Corps volunteer who finished her service, went to the States and got a job, and 8 months later RETURNED to the country in which I served to work as a staff member for the same organization. I now train PC volunteers, who are some of the most hard-working, inquisitive, intelligent, innovative, and creative people I’ve met. I am working directly under a phenomenal manager who has my back, respects my work and grants me a great deal of autonomy. My main client is my former supervisor, a program manager who is responsive to the shifting needs of the country (we are a development agency, after all) and able to clearly communicate her priorities, intention and vision for her program while supporting and developing her staff on a day to day basis. As an education geek, I get such a charge out of translating her vision into learning objectives and creating learning experiences for the volunteers she supervises. And now that I’ve been around for awhile, I’ve gotten to lead follow-up trainings for volunteers I trained fresh off the plane, see how they’ve grown and developed in the field, and provide a space for them to share what they’ve learned, which humbles me.

My job also includes two 6-week stays each year in poor rural communities, where trainees, local language teachers and I live with host families and work with the communities to implement projects as a kind of simulation for what their future PC service will include. The love and patience host families show their “gringo” host sons and daughters demonstrates a guileless hospitality and compassion I will probably never achieve. And families that live on less than $5 a day will ask if I’ve eaten, insist on serving me a plate of rice and beans, and make sure to send me home with a plastic bag bursting with mangoes or grapefruits from their trees in the backyard.

I work for an organization that does inspiring and important work, with women from whom I learn and who hold me to high standards, serving people I admire, in a role which suits me perfectly and contributes meaningfully to the organization. If it were in the States, had better potential for career advancement, involved a little less government beaurocracy and paid a liveable US salary (in dollars, or at least a more stable currency), I’d NEVER leave.

Happy Worker August 26, 2011 at 12:22 am

I love my job, and especially love my boss, and she knows it. We appreciate each other a lot and tell each other that all the time. Admittedly it’s easier because we’re not in the same office, because I suck at giving compliments face-to-face.

But it was actually my boss who made me realize how important it is to offer appreciation. She does it so regularly to me, and it’s one the things that makes me feel so good about my job.

Anonymous August 31, 2011 at 1:32 am

I didn’t post last time, but I read the posts and told a few people today about what I appreciate about them and how they make my job better and it felt really good to be able to tell people how awesome they are. I was also surprised at the responses, they were so varied and it made me realize how ill-prepared we all are to hear that someone notices the effort that we put in.

Ask a Manager August 31, 2011 at 10:34 am

That’s great that you did that!

Anonymous J August 31, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thanks, AAM. These two posts and the comments have been very inspiring.

I believe what I listed in the other thread were leaving at the end of the day and a few, select coworkers. I DO show those coworkers appreciation, all the time. I make time to be here for them if they need to talk/vent, I give them rides if they don’t have a car, I bring in produce from my garden and share it with them, I even give them some of my art as gifts. When they leave or I go on vacation, I do everything I can to make sure we can stay in touch. No one who is good to me or who I care about is ever neglected. Good people are so important–so many people are toxic.

I also mentioned flexibility and a beautiful campus. I think I will send our facilities department a thank-you note acknowledging their hard work, and I think I’ve thanked my supervisors for their flexibility regarding my schedule. Most recently, I was delayed by a day returning from my vacation, due to Irene. I called that Sunday and told them I would not be in. No one said a word to me when I got back. I have also never had them turn down a request for time off, so I really should make sure to thank them, even though I can’t stand them and hate working with them. It will make ME feel better.

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