Unlock Potential by Appreciating Your Assets

by Dawn Kaiser

Imagine waking up each morning excited to go to your spa because it makes your heart sing—and that everyone else on your team feels the same way.

Imagine working with people who are lit up from the inside out because you have aligned what they do at work with their experiences and strengths. Imagine leading a business where your “life’s work”—the very act of doing something for others—is fully cherished and valued by those you provide the service to and those who work with you. Imagine the yet untapped possibilities for you, those you work with and your spa business if this were your day-to-day experience.

In the March issue of Pulse, I introduced a three-part series focused on four uncommon habits that joy-driven leaders employ to refuel positivity and engagement while delivering predictable excellence. We discussed how you can be a RARE leader by “rediscovering your relationships.” in this article I want to concentrate on the second habit, which is to “appreciate your assets.”

Appreciate means to value and recognize the best in people and the world around us. it means to affirm past and present strengths, successes and potential. There are two ways to utilize appreciation in order to create a culture of joy as a spa owner or manager. The first is by using appreciation to validate and reinforce the positive behaviors and efforts you want to see from your spa associates. In the2018 O.C. Tanner whitepaper“Business Case for Recognition,” theyshared a statistic that is quite shocking: “79%of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ astheir reason for leaving.” The whitepaper also goes on tostate that O.C. Tanner partnered with HealthStream research to test for a connection between appreciation and business results, and what they found was that “companies that effectively recognize excellence in their employees enjoyed a Return on Equity (RoE), which
encompasses profitability, asset management and financial leverage, of more than three times higher than the return experienced by businesses that don’t.” Appreciation isn’t just about going around the workplace giving your spa associates a high five and saying “good job.” Rather, effective appreciation is about being timely, specific and meaningful.

Timing is Everything

Let’s look at the first element: being timely. We want to use appreciation
to reinforce the positive behavior or effort that we witness or are made aware of, but most of the time as leaders we don’t deliver this recognition until our monthly one-on-one or quarterly conversations. This makes the reinforcement less effective because, honestly, how many of us can remember exactly what we did a month ago? The general guideline I coach leaders to use is that within 48 hours you should acknowledge the positive behavior or effort you want to reinforce. Be on the lookout for spa associates doing things right, then share that insight with them within 48 hours.

Be Specific

The second element of effective appreciation is making sure that it is specific. If U told you to “keep up the good work,” what exactly does that mean? But what if you told your spa associate, “I want you to know how much I appreciate the extra time you put in this week to get the new product orders set-up so that our customers could be well-served. Your extra efforts helped us deliver on our promise of providing a positive experience for our customers.” It’s not about fancy words. it is about being clear about what you appreciate and what behavior you want to see them do again in the future.

Make It Meaningful

The final element of effective appreciation is to make it meaningful. In their book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Paul White and Gary Chapman state that “every person is unique in the way that they feel or express appreciation and value in work relationships.” our role as rarE leaders is to tailor the appreciation we show to our employees in a way that is meaningful to them, not easiest for us.

In White and Chapman’s book they identify five “languages” of appreciation:

  • WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: an individual wants to hear or see that they are a doing something well. The affirmation could come in the form of an email, a handwritten thank-you note or a face-to-face conversation.
  • ACTS OF SERVICE: individuals with this language feel appreciated when something is done for them in honor of the effort they exerted. it could be as simple as asking how you can help lighten their load or letting them off an hour early one day.
  • RECEIVING GIFTS: Some people like to receive things in order to feel valued. The dollar amount does not matter as much as the thought behind it. you can use gifts cards for this language, but if you want to make it even more meaningful, give them a gift card to their favorite store.
  • QUALITY OF TIME: folks with this appreciation language feel valued when you give them your undivided attention. It doesn’t have to be a set amount of time, but make sure you are not looking at your phone or being distracted when you are with them. Have a cup of coffee with them and share the elements that you appreciate about them.
  • PHYSICAL TOUCH: With this language, we need to clarify that it is appropriate touch. A pat of the back, a high five or quick hug, depending on your working relationship, will show that you care.

Appreciative Inquiry

Another approach to appreciation that has helped RARE leaders create cultures of joy and unleash the best in their people is called Appreciative Inquiry (AI). For 15 years, I have been studying AI as a tool that helps leaders create a paradigm shift to focus on the best in their people, in their spa businesses and the world around them. Fnstead of focusing on what is not working or being critical of situations, AI takes a different approach by focusing on past successes and uncovering what enabled that success so that it can be replicated to overcome present challenges. AI believes that what we focus on grows, so it challenges individuals to ask questions to gauge successes, strengths and sustainability.

The Appreciative Inquiry method revolves around four stages:

DISCOVERY: In this stage spa owners or managers aim to find, emphasize and illuminate any factors that have led to the “best” in a given situation. When discovering the best, you can start by looking at peak experiences, especially in situations that surprised you. In an organizational setting, possible discovery questions could be:

  • What gives life to our spa business and allows it to function at its best?
  • Where are things going well in our organization?
  • What makes our customers keep coming back?

DREAM: Once you have discovered the best, the next phase is the Dream stage. This is where you begin to dream of what could be or needs to be for your business and for your employees. In this stage, you focus on the possibility of what could be rather than limiting yourself by what you currently see, do, feel or act. A few questions in this stage might be:

  • What progress can the organization make by one year from now?
  • Suppose that tonight, while you slept, a miracle happened in your organization. When you wake up tomorrow morning, what will you notice? What will your employees or customers notice?
  • What dreams do your employees have for the business or their team?

DESIGN: The next step in the ai process is the Design stage. Here, you’ll create and design what you want, as well as look at how your ideal scenario could be feasible. This is where you begin to dialogue and decide how you are going to make your dreams happen. Questions for this stage might be:

  • What do you feel are the most promising areas in which to expand the joy in our organization?
  • What communication would need to happen in order to create engagement around this area?
  • What are the specific behaviors you want your spa associates to implement in order to create a culture of joy?

DESTINY: The last “D” stands for Destiny. This is when people commit to the aspirations they want to achieve. During this stage the implementation of change is emphasized. Questions we might need to ask are:

  • What’s the first thing that’s needed to make this plan happen?
  • How we will show appreciation to team members when they have followed through on implementing these new changes or behaviors?

Appreciation is a huge opportunity to not only accelerate your spa associates’ performance, but also increase your return on Equity and continue to grow in a way that creates positive outcomes and unleashes joy in your workplace.


1. Develop a practice of appreciating one person each day. it could be a spa associate, a customer or even a vendor.

2. Look at your customer service or workplace culture, then use the four Ds of appreciative inquiry to discover how you can unleash joy in that situation.