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Showing Appreciation to Quiet Employees

A team consists of employees with different personalities and working style. There are always a few quiet employees in a team. They do not always receive the same amount of attention or recognition as compared to out-spoken employees. Leaders need to understand how quiet employees contribute in their way and deserve recognition for their work like everyone else.

It is dangerous to assume that quiet employees want less or do not need recognition for their contribution. The key is to find out what kind of recognition that quiet employees value and provide them accordingly.

I learn some important lessons of working with quiet employees.

  1. Quiet employees are equally capable as anyone else. They shine at work in different ways.

  2. Some of them are good at work execution. Many of them are great thinkers. They think on a topic deeply and thoroughly. They provide good insight with well-thought through and balanced view. The trade-off is that they need more time to process information.

  3. They like to have their own space to do the work quietly.

  4. They are very dedicated to their work.

  5. They are good at keeping work on track. They rarely get praised for keeping things normal. They are under the spotlight when the process fails.

  6. They tend not to be the first person to speak at meetings. When the out-spoken employees take up the space, it further discourages quiet employees to talk. In fact, when you ask them for their view, they have a lot to share.

  7. They also want recognition for their great work. It is the way of recognition that matters.

To appreciate quiet employees for their contributions, here are a few examples that I tried in the past.

  1. Listen to their needs. When I was unsure about what type of appreciation was meaningful to a quiet employee, I went to ask him/her. Alternatively, I asked his/her work friends who knew the person better.

  2. Write them a personal thank you note. Even when a company issued a letter under a corporate recognition program, I added my own words on the letter and gave it to the employee in person.

  3. They want their contribution or talent being recognised privately. I tapped into a team member with thinking capability more. By doing so, it gave her a strong sense of achievement.

To summarize my experience of working with quiet employees,

  • quiet employees are equally valuable in a team

  • they also value recognition from team leaders and peers

  • identify them and show appreciation to their contributions.


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Norris Wong is an independent Human Resources consultant who supports employers & Human Resources leaders to solve people issues with an employee centric approach. If you would like to get support on your people issues, drop me an email at to start a conversation.

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