The Art of Appreciation at American Income Life
In light of Convention week and taking time out to celebrate the accomplishments of our Leaders in our great Company, I thought it would be fitting to peel the layers back on the true art of appreciation. At the end of the day, we all want to feel appreciated in some shape or form, and as Leaders in our respective organization we have the ability every day to make people feel appreciated. Consequently, the mark of a great leader is one that changes the lives of the people around them for the better.
As Leaders, we tend to juggle many responsibilities in our day to day operation at American Income Life. But one responsibility that I believe we as Leaders cannot “drop” is the fundamental principle of appreciation. It is a core value that is innate in all of us and one that cannot (and, moreover, should not) be missing from our leadership characteristics. For if not, our leadership message and influence could be misconstrued and have a negative impact on the state of your respective agency. That said, it is important to make a distinction between the different types of appreciation, if you want to be a pro at appreciation; you want to decipher which kind of feedback makes the most impact on the person you are delivering the appreciation to.
Science tells us that there are three different ways the brain takes in information, and everybody has a specific type that they gravitate towards. Auditory people need to hear it, visual people need to see it, and kinesthetic people need to feel it.
For instance, if you give visual feedback to an auditory person, it doesn’t have the same affect or impact. The individual might say, “he sends me emails and cards, but he never takes the time to walk over and tell me to my face.” In this particular example, although your goal was to sincerely appreciate the individual of which an email was sent, it never really impacted or accomplished anything. Visual people, on the other hand, like to receive something they can see, such as plaque from the Agency or Company that they can hang in their office. Moreover, a visual person appreciates cards, plaques, certificates, pictures – gifts of any kind that can serve as a visual reminder of their success and accomplishments. They can see it and keep the memory of it around forever. Kinesthetic people need to feel it – handshake, pat on the back, or taking them out to lunch or dinner. Understanding the method which you choose to utilize will have a significantly more profound impact on your appreciation.
A recent management study revealed that 46% of employees leaving a company do so because they feel unappreciated, 61% said their bosses don’t place much importance of them as people, and 88% said they do not receive acknowledgement for the work they do. That said, I am certainly not implying that these statistics are indicative of AIL – but it is important to note that the majority of the people we recruit into our agencies come from such an environment and mindset. Thus, driving appreciation as leaders could be the difference maker in retaining more agents and adding to overall agency growth.
Through your relationship building process you should be able to assess what style will be most appropriate for the individual. When in doubt, use all three types of communication – auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. For instance, you can show appreciation toward an agent in a weekly meeting with a speech to the team about their accomplishment that week (auditory), presenting the individual with a plaque, and taking that same person to lunch. In closing, most of us have come across the adage of “people don’t care how much you know, they only know how much you care.” Making a conscious effort to becoming a pro at appreciating people will undoubtedly posture you as a Leader to have more influence on the people you lead and help change the people you lead for the better.