Irritable Employee photo from ShutterstockAs a small business entrepreneur, having co-workers and team members who share your passion to make the business improve and who value each other is a great gift.  

What do people do when they don’t feel valued?

Some people will show outward signs of displeasure (weary, discouraged faces), yet many will internalize it. In such instances, it’s valuable to know the clues they send out so you know when there’s discontent. As Dr. Paul White, co-author of “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” says, “… some of us are not especially talented at picking up clues sent out by others. They may be clearly communicating their distress, but we are missing the signals.”

Notice the signals

Displeasure, weariness, and outright unhappiness will manifest in various forms. Some will be directed towards you and others, show in work results, and worse toward customers. As a small business owner, an unhappy employee can jeopardize your livelihood and your reputation. It is then imperative that you notice the signals and act on them, fast.

Clear irritability is a sign of anger. It could be someone doesn’t like an aspect of the job, or are dealing with personal issues. Whatever the case, show that you value the person and get to the root of the issue. Anger, if left unattended to, so to speak, can lead to resistance and insubordination, which can be fatal to productivity and morale of any business and even more rapidly in a small business.

Apathy and social withdrawal are other signals to watch out for. When an employee develops a “why try at all?” attitude, they believe their work doesn’t matter to the business. Or when a team member withdraws from social interactions, this could be a sign that they don’t feel valued/cared for by the team. You don’t want these two attributes replicated in your business. Take this as an opportunity to listen, learn and step in and show appreciation.

Other times, you could be creating a negative work environment that brings about feelings of passivity, tardiness, cynicism and discouragement. When you openly criticize employees on mistakes, give negative feedback, never allow people to express themselves fully, and in some extreme cases, are an outright “jerk” to your employees simply because you own the business, you’re fostering a bad work environment.

In such cases, evaluate yourself and start looking for opportunities to create a culture of positivity in your workplace. Constantly encouraging and appreciating the work of others, even where it doesn’t meet standards, raises the morale and overall mood of the place. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not condoning subpar work, but simply appreciating the effort employees put in the work, while opening an easy avenue to give constructive feedback.

Your business brand is a conglomeration of the personal brands that interact with your customers and represent your business. [tweet this]

Always appreciate

Appreciating doesn’t only extend to those you work with, but also customers, suppliers, and family. Pay attention to the signals that people send that they need encouragement. It means always being appreciative and warm, even when the day isn’t going well for you. You could set a daily reminder to thank everyone for their work, and wish them a great day/week ahead. It can also be personal notes sent to every employee, each with a custom message as to why they are valued in the business.

Even more valuable, is when you learn and understand the language that people “hear” and value appreciation in. When it’s shown and delivered in a way that they themselves value, that’s when sincere appreciation makes a difference.

Appreciation knows no boundaries, so small business or not, it’s up to you to set the foundation for the best business climate ever.