Great Leaders Say Thank You

Leader professional in group meeting saying thank you to team

What does it mean?

One of the most impactful things a leader can do to build commitment is give meaningful recognition. Giving positive feedback and praise is just as important as having those tough conversations. You want to ensure that you are catching employees when they do something right, not just when things go wrong. Saying thank you can have an enormous impact on the employee and their level of commitment.

The powerful thing about recognition, is that when people believe you think highly of them, they strive to keep you thinking that highly. Employees are more likely to go further for a customer or co-worker who thinks they do a great job because they don’t want to let them down.

Recognition and praise must be meaningful. Research shows that leaders need to give recognition and praise on a weekly basis in order for employees to recognize they are receiving recognition on a regular basis.

Recognition drives discretionary effort. It drives that motivation for an employee to take something one step further or make something even better.

How to do it:

There are a few keys to giving meaningful recognition:

  1. Be sincere in your delivery of the recognition. You have to mean it!
  2. Be specific about what it was the person did and why it had an impact. A blanket ‘thanks’ doesn’t accomplish enough. Thank the person for what they did and identify to them the difference it made.
  3. Keep the thank you positive. It’s amazing how easy it is to accidentally botch a thank you. If you throw the word ‘actually’ anywhere in your recognition you are already off track and are likely giving a backhanded compliment (“That was actually a good idea”). Make sure the recognition is positive and that you don’t sound surprised the person could successful complete the task.

Modes of communication for giving recognition:

  • In-person: You can make a special point of stopping by their workstation to say thank you or communicate it in one of your regular one-on-one meetings.
  • By email: Feel free to send a thank-you email to an employee. In an email you can be specific about what they did and why it mattered.
  • A thank-you note works too!
  • Be sure to pass along good things you are hearing from others too by forwarding an email with a nice comment or mentioning it in person.
  • Finally, another way to show recognition or praise is to leverage someone’s expertise. By saying “hey, you’re really good at this, can I pick your brain”? You show the employee that you recognize their expertise, experience and perspective.

If you are having regular one-on-one meetings with employees, remember to take the time to give proper credit to your employee. People like to hear that they are doing good work, and they like being thanked for that work even more. Having regular one-on-one’s is a great way to make ‘thank you’ a habit and to also make sure you are having the tough conversations when you need to.

Why it Matters:

Saying thank you is part of how we make employees feel safe at work. When employees are hearing regular positive feedback, they know they are on the right track. When they don’t hear anything, they don’t know where they stand. This can cause them to lose motivation because they don’t know if they are doing the right things.

Meaningful recognition where an employee feels valued, appreciated, and knows how they made a difference will drive them to work harder for that leader, client or co-worker.

Most employees want to do a good job at work. They want to go home at the end of the day feeling valued and that they contributed. Giving meaningful and regular recognition is an easy way to do that. It’s something simple, but it can have a big impact. 

Enroll in the Intentional
Leadership Program Today!

Fully understanding how to successfully lead others can be tricky. The key to a strong organization starts with strong leaders. In our Intentional Leadership program, we will provide strategies on:

  • Dealing with performance issues
  • Building relationships and employee commitment
  • Providing meaningful recognition
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Getting results

The Intentional Leadership program will provide you and your staff with actionable strategies and practical tools to improve your ability to lead, inspire others, and get results. Strong leaders make stronger organizations. Learn how to bring out the greatness in others.

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