As entrepreneurs and leaders sometimes we move so fast that we forget to “smell the roses,” as they say. One of those roses often ends up being recognition of our employees. And let’s be clear, without our employees, there is no company.
So in honor of this “Thanksgiving” let’s start with our teams. I’m not advocating a group hug or email that says, “gee thanks.” Let’s try to make it a little more personal.
Everyone likes to be recognized and thanked in the way that feels best to them. If you are trying to guess what that might be, observe how they “thank” others, it’s usually a sign as to their preferred method of being thanked. Focus on your direct reports first and model for them what a sincere thank you looks like. Recognize them for a specific contribution or an overall “attitude” of gratitude that helps the whole company grow. Be specific in your message so they know what you are thankful for.
Remember that “thanks” don’t always have to be communicated with dollars. A kind word or sincere recognition will often go much further than a monetary gift. Ultimately you need both, but during this time of giving thanks, focus on just that, saying thank you
When I started thinking about this, I wondered why we don’t do this more often? Part of it is our speed and forgetting to smell the roses as I mentioned before. I think a larger part of it is that we are sometimes uncomfortable giving employees thanks and simply assume they know we are grateful. Human beings need feedback and being appreciated is one of the basic needs we all have. So make someone’s day with a sincere acknowledgment and thanks for their contribution.
Think about what you might be able to do to inculcate this into your culture. As leaders, everyone looks at all you do with special scrutiny and interpretation. It is our job to ensure that our behavior is being interpreted correctly. So above all else, be sincere and authentic. If you can’t give thanks without these ingredients, it’s best to forgo it altogether until you can figure out how to do it properly. Done well, it will be something your employees imitate and repeat and it will become a pattern in the culture.
A simple conversation with you as the leader about their positive contribution to the organization is all you need to do to start. Just a three to five minute exchange to give thanks will make someone’s day.
It’s a valuable few minutes if you do it right. And it will pay itself forward for a long time. Give thanks!