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Say Thanks Freely

Yep it’s an oldie but a goodie - give your team the appreciation and thanks they deserve and they will blow your mind with the results they deliver. People do more for those who appreciate them, so have a think about how you say thank you and fill their bucket.

William James, the father of psychology, stated that the most fundamental psychological need is to be appreciated. We all want to feel fully appreciated for our work. The payoff for inspiring leaders is that people do more for those who appreciate them.

Most leaders understand the importance of this yet it still tends to be

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a blind spot. Often they believe they are much more appreciative of their teams than their teams think they are OR they will get too big for their britches OR they don’t’ see anything as special as the team (member) “is just doing their job.” This is really just being miserable and is never going to put wind in your teams sails.

With all of today's technology options, it's easy to find yourself too busy for face-to-face interaction, but that's one of the best ways to charge up your team. Showing appreciation is not a matter of time and intention; rather, it's a matter of priority and action.

Often we get caught in the feedback = back performance. Research by former Gallup chairman the late Donald Clifton revealed that work groups with at least a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions were significantly more productive than those having less than a 3-to-1 ratio. So showing your appreciation is certainly a positive interaction and is a simple way to boost your ratio.

Track your ratio for a week to see how well you are consciously appreciating your team. Look for opportunities to acknowledge your team's results and positive progress. Catch them doing something right, people will look to repeat behaviour that is acknowledged as good or appreciated.

A good way to start, if it doesn’t come naturally, is to diaries appreciation as a task – that means you haven’t finished your to do list if you haven’t given (say) 2 x “thank yous” per day. BUT remember you must be sincere and specific. In other words, don't fall into the trap of blurting out the robotic "Good job." Take the time to thoughtfully explain why you appreciated the specific action taken by a team member.

There should be plenty of opportunities, and remember you can’t overdo it if it’s sincere and specific. So don't worry about recognizing your team too much. In fact, there are no documented studies of any team ever feeling over appreciated!

Here are some simple ways to demonstrate your appreciation for your team:

  • Say thank you - simple, yet highly underused form of appreciation.

  • We love old school - write a card or note to a team member expressing why you appreciate him or her.

  • Allow your team (or team member) to present their work to your boss. This is a great way to engage your team, and it also shows your boss what kind of leader you are.

  • Put a sincere acknowledgment of a team member in your company newsletter. This takes only a few minutes of your time but creates long-term value for the employee. (I’ve seen most employees so proud they take a copy for their family to see!)

  • Say thank you to a team member (or the whole team) at a staff meeting. Remember stories are perceived as more interesting, meaningful, thoughtful, and memorable.

  • Take a team member for a coffee (or lunch or drink depending your budget and policies) to show your appreciation. Remember to do more listening than talking - AND remember to let them know why you're doing it.

Find ways that are natural and comfortable for you to demonstrate your appreciation, since your authenticity is the key. You have complete control over your appreciation. No budget limitations or excuses here--there are literally thousands of ways to demonstrate your appreciation at little or no cost.

Give THANKS freely - it just makes sense.

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