Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Power of Appreciation

Dear fellow HRDians

In my last post we discussed how HR needs to look at alternative approaches."Appreciative inquiry" was mentioned as one of the ways we can bring about change for the better. Appreciative inquiry(AI) , as developed by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastava is a step by step methodology of using appreciation as the base for dreaming,developing action plan and implementing them  for a better reality.
AI can be described as an effective OD tool for bringing about positive  changes in social settings,schools/colleges or corporates. The five phases of AI are Definition, Discovery,Dream,Design and Destiny/ Delivery. I attended a three day workshop on AI to get an understanding of the concept. I have not yet  embarked on a full fledged AI exercise. However 'Appreciation ' and its power is something that intrigues me.

While putting into practice AI process in its totality could get us big results;to my mind,a mere attitude of appreciation can change your work situation and life in general. In the book"The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, the author brings out the importance of 'Gratitude' in order to attract wonderful things into our lives. So powerful is this concept of gratitude that Byrne in her third  book"The Magic" deals almost entirely on this subject. The first step towards a grateful mind is appreciation of all that we already have in our lives.It is only when we are grateful for all those things we already have that the good God will give us much more.
If we want our employees to be more motivated and contribute more, we need to appreciate what they are already doing well instead of always trying to find fault or look out for the shortcomings.If our relationship with our spouse is not good at the moment, nothing much will change or improve if we continue to look at the things we don't like about that person.Instead , we need to celebrate all the good things about the spouse. When you start counting all the good things about her/ him, surprisingly you find your relationship improves.
Taking a cue  from this concept of appreciation, I experimented with an exercise while doing a training program for  employees who were promoted from the level of technician( blue collared) to supervisors. I split the the total number of 20 participants into two groups of 10 each. For the purpose of the exercise, one group was told to assume that they were technicians and the other group that they were supervisors.

One person from each group alternatively  was required to come before the entire group and speak a few words of appreciation about the other group.So, the supervisors spoke highly of the contribution of technicians and empathized with the difficulties faced by technicians & vice versa. This was not difficult for this group since they were now playing the role of a supervisor and had till recently played the role of technicians. what followed was half an hour of pure appreciation of both roles and feelings of goodwill in the air.The entire proceedings was video graphed. I ended the session by reminding the new supervisors that we need to appreciate the role of others, particularly those with whom we are regularly interacting. This will ensure that we have a smooth working relationship.

Normally the relationship between a technician and supervisor is strained. Each one is suspicious of the other and there is a lack of trust. Yet when the 'appreciation video' mentioned above  was  shown to technicians attending another program, they watched the same in pin drop silence and acknowledged the  value of appreciating the role of  others. This was possible because for the first time they heard lot of appreciation & praise from supervisors whom they always believed as not having any regard or respect for them.

The Power of Appreciation was experimented in another program designed for middle level executives.The executives were drawn from various disciplines such as Production, Maintenance, Quality control, Materials, Production Planning, Employee relations etc. The program titled "Synergy" aimed at improving the  harmony of executives working in  diverse areas who could encounter conflicts in the course of normal work. The program sought to imbibe in them a sense of the 'Big Picture' and not focus on their immediate departmental goals. While team working was the focus area, it was decided in consultation with the external faculty  to administer a doze of 'appreciation' in the initial part of the program itself  in order to build goodwill and trust amongst the participants.
The participants were encouraged to speak of the times when his counterpart from the other department(preferably one who is present as a participant) went beyond the normal call of duty to support and help  which left a pleasant feeling for a long time to come. After initial hesitation, more and more of the participants warmed up to the  idea of appreciating their colleagues.

Later towards the end of the program they were invited to now share their 'Wish Lists' in the sense they could now tell their counterparts what are the areas in which they expected more  support or improvements. Normally in a large group, people are reluctant to to speak about things that can be viewed as fault finding. But when  I pointed out to them that it was not actually  a case of fault finding  but equivalent  to  members of a family discussing  together for the benefit  of the whole organization, the participants had no hesitation to express their expectations from other departments.Normally conflicting departments would have engaged in a bitter debate on such issues.
Actually all this was possible in view of the fact that appreciation was already conveyed in the morning  and in its light and fragrance, it was possible  for all the participants to accept feedback for improvements. What I have discussed are baby steps. I know that the potential and the power of appreciation is much more and it is only with more and more practice that we would  be able to reap rich benefits.

I hope this post will encourage readers to  not only appreciate the 'Power of Appreciation' but also look at Appreciative inquiry as a serious tool to resolve some of our issues in the industry.
Happiness and peace. Rest in my next

1 comment:

  1. Marshall Rosenberg in his book"Nonviolent communication" says that appreciation should not be manipulative but genuine, straight from the heart-While saying 'Thank you; the following to be covered:-
    * This is what you did
    * This is what I feel
    *This is the need of mine that was met