Tales from the Ultimate Intern, “Proactive Appreciation”

Hey all,

When it comes to work place dynamics, specifically the dynamics between your investors, top management and employees, I will admit forthright that I’ve had little experience.  For this reason, I have done my best to keep my mouth shut and keep my eyes and ears open. After working at Tokbox almost a month now, I thought I’d share with you all one of most important things I’ve learned thus far.

In essence, I now believe one of the most meaningful tasks of any top executive or “leader” is to show proactive appreciation for the work of their fellow employees. While this seems intuitive and down-right kindergarten common sense, I’ve learned that it is not. Let me try to explain.

Instinctively, all people will show basic appreciation when someone completes a task on their behalf or helps them out in someway. This is a reactionary response that everyone has come to expect. A coworker helps me out and so I say thank you. If I hadn’t said thank you, he probably would have felt somewhat crossed. However, it is now my opinion that a reactive response may no longer be good enough to show your appreciation, and I have only come to believe this after witnessing the gratefulness and comfort produced by a proactive response.

A proactive response is more thoughtful, spur of the moment, and somewhat less mechanical. For example, on Thursday morning our CEO Ian brought in doughnuts. Or last Friday, Sequoia’s Roelof Botha took an hour and had pizza and played ice-breakers after our investor’s meeting. While these gestures seem on the surface simply kind and thoughtful, I’ve found that they mean a tremendous amount more in the mix of the average work day.

Proactive appreciation is the glue that keeps a talented office a happy office, and in the start-up environment where human capital and the right blend of talented individuals breeds collective intelligence, a happy office often becomes a successful office. Here at Tokbox, I have seen a tremendous amount of proactive appreciation. From our VP of Engineering’s clock-work thank you emails to our CEO’s continued stocking of the company fridge, proactive appreciation has become the norm. And everyone can agree, that when you truly feel appreciated for your work, your work takes on a whole new level of importance.

As my friend* Joe Kraus says, “Nothing burns people like the equal treatment of unequals. Treat your best people differently. Do amazing things for them. They make your company.”

Have a fun and safe week!


* I just follow him on Twitter