The Value of Feeling Valued

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One high performing sales rep told us, “If I weren’t reporting to Carmen, I would have answered that call from the recruiter.” 

We got curious. What was it about Carmen that made him want to stay? He continued, “I could have gone to our main competitor and made 20% more, but I didn’t. Why?  Because I know Carmen appreciates what I do. She values my ability to bring in business. She makes me feel like I’m important to the success of this company. I’d do just about anything for her.” 

Carmen is skilled at a valuable technique we call FRE – frequent recognition and encouragement. In a previous blog post, we show that giving out FRE can lead to a 40% increase in team productivity.

Here are three things you can do at work (and even at home for that matter) to increase people’s feelings of being valued:

Tell people “thank you”

Say, “I appreciate the extra effort...” or “I appreciate the thorough steps you took to….” Just saying “good job” doesn’t work. People don’t know how to replicate “good job.”  When you say “good job,” they may think you like how they brought a team together for the project, but you may be referring to the speed with which they turned the project around. Psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University has found that person-praise such as saying “you’re smart” or “good job” can lead to feelings of helplessness over the long term.  Why? Because that person may give up when he realizes he will not be able to complete a “good job.”   When giving a compliment, be specific. Use process-praise and describe the process or strategy used to deliver such great results.  Specific behaviors can be replicated.  When Carmen gives a FRE to her sales rep, she describes specifically the strategies he used to deliver the great results.

Be genuine

There is a concept in psychology called “absent presence.” It’s what happens when you dial in to a conference call, put the call on mute and check your email. It’s when you’re standing next to a friend and are completely immersed with your smartphone. We all can tell when someone is physically present, but not “really” there. A recent study at Google found that recognition delivered in person was more meaningful than in an email. Be sure to convey your sincerity by stopping whatever else you are doing when you express your positive feedback.

Give FRE freely

Be on the look out for opportunities to provide positive feedback to your peers, teammates, boss and customers. Don’t be stingy. Turn FRE into a daily habit.

Remember, feeling valued is a basic human need. Throwing more money at people isn’t going to make them feel more appreciated, but giving them FRE will.  


Margaret H. Greenberg and Senia Maymin, Ph.D.​ are organizational consultants and executive coaches. You can find more information at www.ProfitFromThePositive.com. Their new book is Profit from the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013).