A major cause of intent to leave and burnout, as reported by many workers, is directly related to the lack of appreciation and/or recogni- tion experienced in the field for the challenging and important work employees carry out.
Validation and affirmation are essential elements for feeling understood and accepted, which is an important aspect of the leader– member relationship described throughout the book. There are many challenging social service sectors, and it is not uncommon for members to sometimes feel misunderstood, unsupported, or devalued. Often, workers who are engaged in challenging jobs or experiencing stressful or difficult times simply want people (especially their supervisors and managers) to understand how hard the work is or how hard it can be. Acknowledging these realities with a supportive response can be exceptionally validating and affirming.
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When members do not feel validated or affirmed in their experi- ences, they can begin to become stuck and frustrated and, after a while, feel devalued and even demoralized. Members need to be acknowl- edged. They also need to be admired and appreciated for the important, complex, and difficult work that they do—and not just for accomplish- ments but for efforts as well. I have made reference to the three As of acknowledgment, admiration, and appreciation earlier.