Methods to Stay Self-Motivated at Work When You Feel Undervalued

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Some people are intrinsically motivated and have little difficulty advancing difficult work - whether or not they receive recognition. But not everyone. Many people cannot stand being underestimated when they invest hours of hard work.

Do you feel undervalued at work? If you want to turn this around and get more praise and recognition that you deserve, you can't afford to neglect your performance.

You may need to feel regular success, validation and encouragement to move forward. If this is the case, it can be difficult to stay motivated at work if you feel undervalued.

The pitfalls of undervaluation

If you were to take two people and give one of them a $1,000 bonus for their hard work and another a five-minute speech about how much you appreciate their hard work and what they mean to the company, which person do you think would be more motivated to succeed?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the one with the monetary reward. In almost all cases, the person who is verbally told that they are appreciated will be more motivated.

This example addresses the dangers associated with employees who feel undervalued, the human need for appreciation, and the power to make people feel valued in the workplace.

"Feeling truly valued elevates people," says Tony Schwartz, President and CEO of The Energy Project. "At the most basic level, we feel secure, and that gives us the freedom to do our best work. It is also stimulating. When our value feels threatened, as is so often the case, that concern becomes worrying, which takes our energy away from value creation and distracts it from it".

The problem is that many employees in today's corporate culture do not feel valued by their employers. As a result, there is often a lack of motivation and productivity. This creates a dangerous loop in which a lack of appreciation leads to a lack of work and creates friction in the workplace.

Lack of appreciation not only affects output, but also causes physical damage in the form of stress and anxiety. According to a well-known study, employees who feel unfairly criticized by their bosses have a 30% higher rate of coronary disease than those who feel valued.

"In the workplace itself, researcher Marcial Losada has found that in high performance teams, the expression of positive feedback outweighs the expression of negative feedback in a ratio of 5.6 to 1," Schwartz continues. "In contrast, low-performance teams have a ratio of 0.36 to 1.

Next, you need to look at the concept of distortion through negativity. This bias, which is inherent in the human brain, means that negative experiences are more easily remembered and perceived than positive ones. Negative stimuli cause the brain's alarm bells to go off, while positive stimuli cause only temporary satisfaction.

"The alarm bell of your brain - the amygdala (you have two of these small almond-shaped regions, one on each side of your head) - uses about two-thirds of its neurons to search for bad news: it is prepared for negative events," says Dr. Rick Hanson. "As soon as she sets off the alarm, negative events and experiences are quickly stored in her memory - unlike positive events and experiences, which usually have to be held in consciousness for a dozen or more seconds or more to be transferred from the buffers of short-term memory to long-term storage.

When the need to feel valued is coupled with our innate tendency to distort negativity, it is easy to understand why so many people have difficulty being motivated at work. It is a serious problem that needs to be solved by companies - on an individual and collective basis.

Ways to stay motivated at work

According to a Gallup poll of American workers, 65% of people say they do not feel valued at work. And this feeling leads to negativity, low morale and reduced productivity.

So if you feel underappreciated, at least you're not alone. But apart from that, there are some practical things you can do to avoid wallowing in despair and stay motivated.

Focus on small victories

We all had these days when nothing seems to go our way. The printer gets jammed just before a big meeting. A customer does not call you back. You spill coffee on your white shirt. Your boss recognizes someone else for something you actually did.

"On days like this, it can sometimes help to look out for small victories," advises marketer Matt Keener. "For example, suppose you really need to start with a big presentation. It's due by close of business, but you just can't get started. Instead of staring at an empty presentation deck for thirty minutes, put the project aside and find something 'bite-sized' to do".

If you are looking for small victories, you are forcing your brain to stop automatically focusing on negative stimuli. This counteracts the negativity distortion and helps you become more aware of the positive things that are happening.

Motivating yourself with goals

The wonderful thing about being human is that you have the ability to set your own goals and find joy in achieving them. In fact, you can boost your self-esteem.

Since you do not receive much positive feedback from your superiors, you may need to set your own goals and monitor your progress.

"If this motivation comes from seeing how your work makes a difference, create a visual representation of it," suggests entrepreneur John Boitnott. "When you answer calls on a customer support hotline, you keep charts of the number of tickets you complete each week. When you handle payments for your employer, you track the improvements you've made in paying suppliers from one month to the next.

By doing this, you can create internal motivation. While this cannot completely replace positive encouragement from superiors, it serves as a small comfort to keep you alive in bleak times.

Practice before work

Sometimes the best source of motivation comes from outside the office. In particular, you can benefit a lot from training in the morning before you go to work. Whether it's a cross-fit session at a nearby gym or jogging in the neighborhood, some physical activity will help you feel better, which will only increase your mental strength.

If you choose to exercise before work, be sure to keep a tangible record of your progress. Ideally, you should keep this log in your office in a visible place. If you feel defeated and have no motivation, take a look at the log and note how well you are progressing in this area. You should be able to transfer some of these positive feelings back into your work for the day.

Recognize the importance of your work

Many people feel underestimated and are not motivated because they do not recognize the importance of their work. While it is ultimately up to your boss to convey this meaning, you may have to think about it yourself if you do not receive support in this area.

At first you may think a particular task is useless, but dig deep. You are not just making a sales pitch. You are conducting a sales conversation to sell a product that has value for someone else's business. If they buy the product, it will help them grow their business and support their family. It will also contribute to the bottom line of your business, which will lead to growth and new opportunities for you and your employees.

See how thinking through something as simple as a sales pitch can help you fully appreciate the value of your work? It's something pretty simple that you can do with just about any task or objective.

Speak up

Sometimes the fact that you feel underestimated goes completely unnoticed by your boss. Maybe they are so busy that they do not notice that you feel that way. If you suspect that this might be the case, don't be afraid to say something.

You don't want to seem like a whiny child, so be strategic about how you approach the conversation. Explain that you sometimes feel that your expectations are not being met and discuss some ways to motivate you to continue to be successful. This will show your boss not least where you stand.

Discover and promote your self-confidence

As you can see, there are many ways to increase motivation despite an overwhelming lack of appreciation in your current job. The key is to promote self-confidence, even if no one else gives you the encouragement you crave.

It is also important that you do your part in building a workplace culture that prioritizes appreciation. Even if you do not have a management or leadership role, you can do little things that make people feel valued.

Here are a few ideas:
  • Make a point of trying to say something nice about one employee per day. It could be something as simple as saying, "I thought you did a really good job on that presentation. You should be proud."
  • People like to feel needed. When you ask someone for help, be sure to tell them that you specifically asked them for help because you know they are good at creative design (or whatever the case may be)
  • If you are working with a team of people on a large project, consider bringing coffee, snacks or lunch one day. A physical sign of gratitude for hard work will lead to an immediate boost in motivation
  • Pay attention to the details. If you ask someone to send you information about a particular client, and they do so as soon as they return to their office, thank them for their quick response. These little things are rarely noticed by others

By making your employees feel valued on a small scale, you can play your part in creating a new culture. You will find that acts of appreciation become contagious. Before you know it, a whole new culture could emerge, with motivation and happiness on the horizon.

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