Recently, a friend was fuming and ranting about how her manager, who is the owner of a SME, cut her bonus by nearly 30%. Now, the rub is that during her evaluation in December he stated that she needed significant improvement because she was making too many mistakes, her peers complained about her not being a team player, and that she didn’t fully provide the level of support that he needed; thereby, he withheld a significant percentage of her bonus. She contends that he supports her but she is fuming that she didn’t get her full bonus as promised. She shared with me that her boss paid for her to have a table at a fundraiser that cost 20,000 MYR and that he even allowed her to stay in his villa at an exotic destination that is valued at 15,000 MYR per night for the holidays. But, for 10 years she has supported him in every way imaginable, yet he has never offered training and development to help her manage her career.

I inquisitively asked her has the trips to his villa increased her value in the company? I asked her whether the fund raiser afforded her an opportunity to network with individuals who can add to her network in such a way that she will earn enough to make her own personal donations. She looked puzzled but she admitted that her growth in the company is non-existent and that his gestures are kind, but she doesn’t get well-deserved promotions and she doesn’t understand why. The problem is simple… I asked her whether she knew the difference between appreciation and support. I said, what many managers do is appreciate their employees, which is great, but support is far different than appreciation. Professionals need support, which they often do not receive.

Do employers merely appreciate employees or do they truly support their employees, and vice versa? You hear a manager/leader say that he values and supports his employees, but if someone needs time off to take care of a personal matter when there are pressing work related tasks that need attention, do you support the employee and grant them that time off with a genuine concern for their well-being or do you insist that they figure out a way to get the work done and then see to their personal matter? My friends boss is not unique. He gave her feedback for improvement but didn’t provide her with the tools to improve. I am for certain that she’ll continue to miss his performance goals and objectives. He appreciates her and may believe that the things he does for her will motivate her, which is a whole different issue. But, as an employee do you come in on the weekend or stay after hours to help your boss complete a task, which in no way benefits you or do you wish them well and bid them good night reminding them how much you appreciate him? These are minor examples, but the concept is huge. You may have better examples of how you either appreciate your employer or employee or how you actually support them, as well. I’m told that many employees not only have to pay for professional development but they also, may have to take time off work to attend. That definitely doesn’t show support even though the employer will appreciate the new skills the employee will bring back to the job.

In the case with my friend, she needs training and development to correct those areas that her boss said she was deficient in. She is no more closer to improving her performance for next year’s bonus than when he dinged her. So, all the stuff he gives to her is showing appreciation while she really needs support. Here are a few things you can do to show your support:

Don’t wait to be asked what you can do to take the load off someone’s shoulder. Spend time listening to both what he says and does not say, and find ways to help him. This may mean telling them to take the day off and you will cover for him. It could be as small as grabbing her lunch when she is working on a deadline and won’t leave for lunch. Your boss needs your support, just as you need his support. Support is simply finding ways to make someone’s journey a little easier along the way.

When your employee comes to you with a way to improve upon himself, don’t just listen but truly have a conversation on how it will benefit them and the organization. Figure out ways to tap into the resources needed to help them acquire new skills and abilities so that they can improve.

Today’s take away is that regardless of where you are in the world, people want to be valued, heard and respected. That will show appreciation. Now, if you support them give them the tools and resources to develop those skills that will help them to be valued, heard, and respected. This is not a natural occurrence for everyone, figure out what your employer needs to be supported. And employers, figure out what your employees need. There is no random list for you to use, this is something every manager/leader needs to have a conversation with his employees about.