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The Netherlands deserves more encouragement
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The Netherlands deserves more encouragement

Dutch people seem to suffer from a chronic lack of appreciation for their work. However, we can learn to appreciate more.

Rarely before have so many old sheets in our country been given a second life as banners. Farmers, construction workers, teachers, and nurses are flocking to the Malieveld in large numbers. They are all protesters who are passionately dedicated to their professions. They grow our food, educate our children, build our roads and homes, or care for the sick. People are standing up now because the execution of their work is at stake.

They have something else in common: the people who are protesting right now feel unrecognized for the value they provide. If you listen closely, you can hear a cry for appreciation: “Value farmers, don’t dismiss them” or “Talk to farmers instead of about them.” And recently, while visiting a hospital, I came across the slogan: “The collective labor agreement treats us as if we are still nuns.”

Doing people justice

I do not expect the discontent to simply disappear after The Hague has promised extra funds. Politics can allocate resources for buying out farmers or addressing high workload in education and healthcare. But to address the lack of appreciation, more than just money is needed. It requires changes in how we interact with each other. It is about treating people with fairness. Do we see them, hear them, and allow them to have a say? Do they have the autonomy to solve issues themselves? Are they involved in the solutions we come up with?

Farmers clearly think otherwise. They believe that politics should involve them more. According to them, it seems that decisions are being made for them. This is strange because our country is the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. This profession is incredibly resourceful and innovative. They excel at finding solutions. Let’s join forces with farmers and ponder on how their future (and the future of our food) can look like. If we appreciate that farmers are engaged in top-level performance, we can also ask them to contribute to the solution of the nitrogen problem. We will likely discover some excellent answers through this collaboration.

Taking a bottom-up approach to problem-solving is usually more effective.

Marcel de Wit – iPM Partners

Appreciative attitude

It would be beneficial if we more often sought solutions from an appreciative stance and involved the people affected by them. Currently, we often work top-down and focus on problem-solving. However, it has been known for some time that we do not arrive at the best solutions if we become too fixated on the problem. Taking a bottom-up, solution-oriented approach is usually more effective.

More appreciation for everyone’s input is not only desirable at the political level but also at the organizational level. Employees also often feel unseen or unheard in these contexts. It is important to have more conversations with people instead of about them. There should be more recognition for the abilities and contributions of colleagues.

Putting on your green glasses

I advocate for a more appreciative culture in organizations. I believe that people should encourage each other more. It starts with a certain mindset, which I describe as “putting on your green glasses.” This entails being willing to understand others, approaching them with admiration, curiosity, and respect for their abilities and desires.

The art of encouragement is to tap into people’s motivation and then ask them to reflect on their contribution to the whole. This leads to solutions that are more widely supported and makes it easier to bring about change. Because when people feel acknowledged, they are more open to the new.

And you?

How is it in your organization? Do your colleagues feel like they have to primarily conform to frameworks, rules, and job descriptions? Or do they feel invited to bring out the best in themselves and collaborate with others towards a clear goal? I hope it is the latter, and I encourage you to continue fostering that environment.

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