What is this magical, mystical thing with so much power? It’s simply saying thank you for a job well done.
But like with nearly all great things, there’s a catch. In this case, showing your appreciation takes a bit of skill. Do it wrong, and it can cause more harm than good. But before you take a vow of silence—never showing your gratitude again—read on. Because listed below are some quick tips on the art of saying thanks.
1. Know Your Team
How you show your gratitude depends upon the person receiving the praise. Even though recognizing someone in front of their family or peers is incredibly powerful, making an introvert stand up in front of the whole company will make them want to curl up in a ball of mortification. Urge them to say a few words after you’ve embarrassed them, and you’ve made the situation even worse. It’s not that you can’t say something nice about a shy person to a large group of people—they just don’t want to perform.
For a people-person, the opposite is true. In their case, the bigger and louder the praise, the better. Give them time to make a speech, and they’re over the moon.
Take a page out of one of our favorite books, The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Every team member speaks one. To best connect, find out which one speaks to them to show that you care. The languages include:
- Words of Affirmation: Use words to communicate your appreciation. They can be written or spoken.
- Quality Time: A little individual time focused on them can go a long way for a team member who speaks this language.
- Tangible Gifts: For these team members, a gift says it all. Remember, though, you don’t have to break the bank to show your appreciation. You’ll be amazed how many members of your team will get fired up over a T-shirt, Starbucks card or movie tickets.
- Acts of Service: These team members feel appreciated when someone offers to help them.
- Physical Touch: Yep, we know. This one sounds creepy or like a lawsuit waiting to happen, but it doesn’t have to be. Think a quick handshake, pat on the back, fist bump or high five.
2. Be Genuine
Introvert, extrovert, middle of the road. It doesn’t matter what type of personality you’re dealing with, if you are insincere in your praise, it’s not worth much. The last thing you want to do is destroy a connection with cheap flattery.
Look for opportunities to catch people doing something right and brag on them. And that can’t happen if you never get up from behind your desk. Walk around, get to know your team, and connect with them. Every person on your team should hear positive words from you.
3. Give a Thank-You Note
Never underestimate the power of the written word. Make a habit of catching your team doing something right and send them a thank-you card. You’ll be surprised by how many team members will not only keep these quick notes but also hang them in a place of honor.
Calendar 30 minutes each week to write notes recognizing individual team members. And no matter how busy, stick to the schedule. The return on investment is well worth the time. Encourage your leaders to do the same. At Dave’s company, he provides embossed personal stationery for his leaders to ensure they are showing—in writing—appreciation to their teams.
4. Go Public
Your team members’ peers are important to them. And recognition in front of their colleagues and friends is powerful stuff. Imagine giving an award to one of them in front of your entire team. How good will they feel? For even more effectiveness, brag on them in front of someone they care about, like a spouse or a parent. In just a few words, magic happens. Watch everyone from your newest team members to the most seasoned, long-time veterans beam.
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For a younger staff member, write their parents and let them know how and why their child is awesome and thank them for being great parents. One of Dave’s leaders even sent flowers to a team member’s wife, praising her husband and telling her how glad he was to work with her husband. Pure magic.
Your attitude of gratitude will show your team that you truly care and that they are valued. Once they know this, inspiring them takes little effort because they believe you value what they bring to the table every day.
You can learn more about how to recognize your team and build a stronger culture by listening to The EntreLeadership Podcast. You’ll hear from today’s top leadership and personal-growth experts who’ll challenge, inspire and motivate you to push beyond the status quo.