By John Heringer, AFS Community Expert

Recognition and Appreciation.

Sounds like something you’ve heard of before right?  If you’re the leader and you’re not recognizing and appreciating your team on a regular basis, no bueno.  This is your job one of the best ways to help lead them to greatness.

If you are recognizing and appreciating your team, kudos to you!  Although my guess is you may have been doing it wrong and that’s what this article is all about.

You see, the #1 deceivingly simple, yet often overlooked thing is not just “recognition and appreciation” it is “speaking their language of recognition and appreciation."

Have you ever read the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman?  In the book, Dr. Chapman describes the 5 different ways we all like to feel/receive love.  This is important because while we all like to feel loved, we all have different ways we desire to receive that love.

Fast forward and Dr. Chapman teamed up with psychologist Dr. Paul White to write 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  Similar to Dr. Chapman’s book, this book dives into the specific ways that your teammates would like to “feel the love” in the workplace – which, in this case, centered on how they would like to receive recognition and appreciation. 

Below are the four specific methods of receiving recognition and appreciation you’ll focus on. (yes, there are really five…and while “physical touch” can take place in the workplace in the form of high-fives and fist bumps, you’ll primarily focus on the four below.)

The Four Specific Methods of Receiving Recognition

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Tangible Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Quality Time

But how do you discover what is most important to each teammate? What are examples of each one? Dr. Chapman and Dr. White have you covered with a great online tool called the MBA Inventory.  It’s a simple, online questionnaire that your teammate completes and then sends you the results.  It will outline their top two preferred methods of receiving recognition and appreciation as well as their least desired.  This costs about $10 and pays you back 1,000 fold with the meaningful appreciation and recognition you are able to give your teammates for years to come.

You can then take the findings of the questionnaire and pop it into Dr. White’s free PPT slide (shown below).  Let’s see the power of this in action. 

Example #1: Beth just rocked an awesome training session and you want to recognize her. 

Take a quick look at the sheet and what would be the BEST way to do this? If you said “words of affirmation” you are correct!  A verbal “high-five” and telling Beth, “I loved how you did X,Y, & Z” will go a long way with her.

Example #2: Sheryl just completed a big project for you overhauling your program design templates and she crushed it. 

Should you show your appreciation the same way you did for Beth? Nope.  In fact, that’s Sheryl’s least valued form of receiving appreciation. Now, this isn’t to say you need to bite your tongue when you want to tell her she did a good job.  This just means that words of affirmation won’t mean as much to her.

Instead, speak to her in her language…Tangible Gifts. Get her a $10 gift card to her favorite, local coffee spot and write a small, brief thank you card commending her on the program design project.

Putting It All Together

Have everyone on your team take the questionnaire (including yourself), update the PPT and then go over it in a team meeting with a copy for everyone so that THEY can show appreciation in a meaningful way to each other! 

My friends, this is one of the best ways you can take care of your team in a way that speaks to them. Take action and implement this today.


John Heringer is the Chief Motivator of Method3 Fitness, a thriving fitness studio in San Jose, CA, and the founder of, an online results tracking software for fit pros to help their clients achieve their goals.  John has been in the fitness industry for over thirteen years and loves sharing insights into leadership, marketing and what it takes to build and sustain a purpose-driven business. Since early 2010 John has built Method3 Fitness into a seven-figure business with over 350+ clients and an amazing team dedicated to changing lives, one person at a time. 

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