Dr. Noelle Nelson is a renowned author with books like the ‘Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy’,’ The Power of Appreciation in Business’, and ‘Productivity and The Power of Appreciation Business Workbook’ to name a few. She has featured on CBS’s ‘The Early Show’, ABC’s ‘The View’, Better TV, Fox News and CNN and interviewed, quoted or written about in diverse publications as Entrepreneur Magazine, HR Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Dr Nelson has spoken on the subject of appreciation before audiences in the U.S., Canada, England, The Netherlands and Australia.
Dr. Noelle Nelson spoke to the Bravo team and shared her insights on how appreciation at work goes a long way in producing extraordinary efforts, on how even working under a bad boss could be an opportunity in disguise and why it’s important for employers to go beyond the pay check.
Q: You have been quoted as saying, ‘The true power of appreciation is when you realize it is a paradigm shift.’ Can you elaborate some more on this?
Dr Noelle Nelson: The power of appreciation is simple—it’s looking at the glass half full—but it goes farther than that. It’s deliberately, consciously recognizing the value of the people, things, experiences and situations in your life. It’s not reflexively reacting. Instead, it’s deliberately looking at things from a different perspective, recognizing how they matter, how they are important, what their value is to you.
‘The power of appreciation is deliberately, consciously recognizing the value of the people, things, experiences and situations.’
Q: ‘Anyone can become an amazing. Starting at any age (the earlier the better), all it takes is a deliberate decision to see the passage of years as simply movement through time. Nothing more.’ For a lot of millennials, this line of thought is hard to get into, given the pressure to be successful at a very young age. What message would you give to millennials to live a wholesome life?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: Be optimistic about your future, no matter how many bumps and hurdles you come across. You are not alone. We’ve all experienced them. It’s how you handle setbacks that will determine your path forward. In your quest for success, look for ways to appreciate your situation and your job, even in the worst of circumstances (i.e., my boss stuffs all his work on me, but at least I’m acquiring skills that I can use in my next job; my boss is the worst; but it’s taught me how to get the best from people when I become a manager).
‘Most bad bosses are terribly insecure.’
Q: 65% of employees say that they would take a new boss over a pay rise. That is a staggering number. In an interview with Voice of America about your book ‘Got a Bad Boss,’ you talk about the attitude shift needed when it comes to dealing with a bad boss. Could you tell our readers some strategies to make working under a bad boss more tolerable.
Dr. Noelle Nelson: Most bad bosses are terribly insecure. These personality types secretly believe that they are not smart enough, talented enough or qualified enough to do their job—and will do everything they can to keep their secret from coming out. That’s why they scream at and threaten employees (so employees will be afraid to challenge them), take credit for others’ work and brag about their own abilities to anyone who will listen. Knowing this gives you an advantage.
Two things may happen—you may leave your current employer for hopefully a better position, or upper management will see your bad boss for who he is and give him the boot. Then it will be your opportunity to shine. Until then, know your boss’ personality type and work with it, rather than against it, so that you can get what you want from your job. For example, by praising a narcissistic boss with whatever genuine admiration you can muster (everybody has something positive about them!), he’ll respond more favourably to your requests. You end up the manager in the relationship.
The Best companies value their employees, reward them with praise and allow them to express their talents.
Q: In ‘Make more money by making your employees happy’, you speak about going beyond the pay check. Organizations often believe that since they pay their employees they need not make any efforts to engage them. How can organizations realise the importance of going beyond pay checks?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: Look at the various annual “Best companies to work for” lists. Just about every country has them. Companies on these lists are chosen year after year because they go beyond the paycheck in every regard. They respect and listen to employees. Employees are treated as valuable, rewarded with praise, given work that allows them to express their talents. Such companies realize their employees’ need for proper work/life balance.
‘True employee appreciation cultivates company loyalty, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.’
Q: Employee appreciation is often underrated. The focus, in most companies, is usually on the customer. Could you explain how a culture of appreciation at workplaces can eventually help businesses grow?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: It’s really simple. Anyone who is thanked, awarded and appreciated will put out extra effort to receive more appreciation. It’s how we humans are wired. We all want to be valued. We thrive on honest, genuine appreciation. It motivates us to do our very best. True employee appreciation cultivates company loyalty, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.
A Gallup study of businesses in 45 countries found that 90 percent of the companies where employees said their managers focused on employee positive characteristics showed increases in sales, customer engagement and had lower turnover and fewer safety incidents. Profits increased by as much as 29 percent.
‘Appreciation is proactively looking for the value in employees.’
Q: In ‘The Power of Appreciation in Business’ you mention ‘Appreciation is not just another word for gratitude, but rather is an obsession with value.’ Could you explain how did you reach this insight and how can organizations make this connection between appreciation and value?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: Gratitude is a thank you for something that has already happened. An employee stays late to get a product out to a waiting customer—management signals out the employee for a job well done. That’s gratitude. Appreciation is proactively looking for the value in employees. A manager notices that an employee is particularly adept at a certain skill—and encourages the employee to advance the skill—through training or job advancement opportunities. That is appreciation. Appreciation is looking forward.
Q: Technology now has a big part to play in workplaces. The HR sphere is also seeing a whole bunch of technological innovations like chatbots. How can companies leverage technology while still keeping workplaces a good place for human beings?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: Never forget that technology is invented for advancing human beings. Companies can never take humans out of the process. Technology is by, for and about people. Technology should be a support, not a replacement for people. This holds true for both employee and customer interactions.
Q: This question is on a slightly different note, for our readers in India. By 2020, 50% of the Indian population will be 25. This demographic dividend, while vital, needs proper training to flower. What advice would you give these young people? How can they become better individuals especially in context with your Facebook page ‘Meet the Amazings’?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: Increasingly, we must have collaborative skills and a collaborative approach to work. Even as we sharpen our own skills and ambitions, we must also look at who is sitting next to us. Think in terms of community at least as much as the individual. Be aware of the bigger implications of whatever you do. Pay attention to the larger consequences of any business decision. Behave as a community even as you pursue your individual ambitions. There are the Bill Gates of the world, incredibly wealthy people who become very socially active later in life. You don’t have to wait to become a billionaire to see the bigger picture, to function as a caring member of a community. Start now.
Q: Yours is an illustrious career. From business trial consultant, psychologist, appearances on various radio and television shows to learning the ballet at 65. Now, you are also an evangelist of the power of appreciation. How are each of these roles linked together? Has the power of appreciation been some kind of common thread between them?
Dr. Noelle Nelson: As a trial consultant, I worked (and still work) with a variety of companies and people in legal disputes. I learned early on that what’s missing in most people’s lives is appreciation. That feeling of being underappreciated is what triggers many of the cases I work on. Out of my work as a trial consultant, I became interested in the role appreciation plays in every aspect of our lives. I researched appreciation extensively, and quickly discovered the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual power of appreciation.