When was the last time you felt appreciated? Perhaps your spouse went out of their way to thank you for doing something for your family; maybe someone in your ministry sent you a message letting you know how grateful they are for the time you devote to your job. How did that recognition make you feel? I have no doubt that it made you feel good! We all want to be appreciated and recognized. But being appreciated not only feels great, it also motivates us to keep going. There are two possible definitions for the word appreciate – first, it is “a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude.” The word can also mean an “increase in value.” I believe both definitions are applicable when it comes to appreciating our volunteers. A systematic approach to volunteer appreciation is vital on a healthy team. When building that system, however, there are a few things to consider. Any time you appreciate someone, you are reinforcing behavior and communicating a message. I believe two things are important messages to get across when you are looking to appreciate with excellence: gratitude and value. Let’s break these down a little bit before we move on. [bctt tweet="When you appreciate someone, you are reinforcing behavior and communicating a message." username="dukematlock"]
Gratitude.We appreciate our people because without them, ministry would be impossible! They give of their time, energy, and resources on a weekly basis. If we want to keep them and avoid burn out, they need to know that they are loved and appreciated. Research shows that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated; if they are willing to leave their jobs, where they get a paycheck, because they feel unappreciated, how quickly do you think you will lose a volunteer for the same reason? When you show gratitude, you are recognizing the sacrifice a person has made and showing just how thankful you are for their service.
Value.Appreciation communicates importance. When someone is appreciated, they are reminded not only that their work and tasks are necessary, but that they as human beings are important. When you appreciate your volunteers, you remind your people that the individual outranks the task every time. Your team is not a machine and your volunteers are more than cogs in the wheel; showing appreciation reinforces the idea that serving in your ministry is about being a part of a community. Your people will know what you value by watching what and who you appreciate.
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