Be warned: fake, canned, phony or clueless appreciation can be worse than no appreciation at all.

By Steve Moran

I am at that age where another birthday is only a reminder that at some point my amazing life will slow down and stop. I am not particularly melancholy about it but not exactly thrilled. Though I do feel honored that the NFL choose to hold the Superbowl on my actual birthday.

Meaningless Appreciation

A couple days ago I received by mail a birthday card from a charitable organization I have a relationship with that was signed by each of the leadership team. “That’s nice,” you think, but so what.  Well, when I looked at it closely it appears they went out and had several hundred (maybe several thousand) of these printed complete with signatures.  

So it is really just a fancy form letter.

I am sure someone on the staff has a birthday calendar and sends those cards out either at the first of every month or along the month to hundreds of folks and that the staff actually has no idea it is my birthday (unless they are reading this, which I am guessing they are not.).

The most generous assessment though was “what a silly waste of money.” My more cynical thought was that this was an insulting reminder that they don’t really care much about me, though I am sure they like my donations, which are not insignificant.

Then I Saw This On Linkedin

Contrast that form letter-style Happy Birthday with this one I saw on LinkedIn


It likely actually took no more time or effort than my worthless birthday greeting, but this was personal and real.

Dianna Gee of Brookdale took just a moment to snap a photo with her mobile phone (I presume) then another few moments to post it on LinkedIn and write two heartfelt, personal meaningful sentences. If I were Dana I would be thrilled.

Appreciation That Works

There is lots of data that when team members feel appreciated, they are more loyal, happier and work harder. They also are more likely to recruit others. Yet fake, canned, phony or clueless appreciation can be worse than no appreciation at all.   

Give a box of candy to a diabetic or symphony tickets to a rock n roller and all you have said to them is “I don’t care enough to get to know you.” It takes an incredible opportunity to grow your team and instead you hurt your team.

How are you showing appreciation to those you work with?