Does it matter if you don't tell your people that you value them?

This week I spent a morning with a large group of very senior coaches/mentors who typically work with CEOs and very senior executives, giving them a masterclass on the Thinking Environment as part of their annual retreat.  The best way to get people to understand the transformative power of Generative Attention is always to give them the opportunity to experience it, so we practiced Thinking Pairs and Dialogue, as well as a Round and Open Discussion - the four building blocks of creating Thinking Environments.  In answer to some great questions from the group I also talked about eight of the Ten Components, which describe the behaviours that support the highest quality of thinking, with examples of their impact.

As part of doing Thinking Pairs (5 minutes each way uninterrupted time with a partner to be listened to with deep interest and fascination) we also get everyone to practice the art of Appreciation: telling your partner explicitly at the end of your thinking time what quality it is that you admire or value in them.  There's no need to make a big thing of it - just be specific, sincere and succinct (say too much and the mind can't take it all in).  It takes all of 20 seconds.  And there's plenty of research now to explain the impact of people knowing in some concrete way how they are valued, from building trust (through the release of oxytocin, the "bonding hormone") to more sustainable relationships (leading to lower turnover) and increased ability to manage conflict. (And then there's the improved quality of thinking, of course.)  

At the end of the morning one of the delegates came and talked to me and said that one of his CEO clients "is so busy that he doesn't have time to appreciate anyone."  I have to say I was appalled - can he really not spare 20 seconds a few times a day?? - but I suspect that my questioner hadn't been convinced about the value of appreciation, or at the very least not enough to challenge his client about it.

But then it got me thinking about what this attitude might do to the culture and atmosphere of a business.  May be that's why this CEO is so busy?  That he doesn't value his people so he can't delegate to them?  Maybe things are going wrong and he spends lots of time firefighting because he hasn't got people who don't think that they matter and don't put in the discretionary effort that makes the difference?

What do you think?

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