How to Express Gratitude as a Leader

November 5, 2020
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Recognizing individual team members is an occasionally overlooked aspect of leadership. Truthfully, I sometimes forget that people even care to be thanked by me, but it's incredibly important. We are currently three weeks away from Thanksgiving, and now is the perfect time to think about gratitude.In Excellence in Sales Leadership (ESL) and Results Producing Leadership (RPL), two of our leadership training programs, we introduce a model called The Business Deal. The Business Deal is all about how to motivate our direct reports by first understanding what they, as individuals, want out of their employer (Rewards, Job Security, Growth, Being Part of a Team, etc.). The key learning is that different people are motivated by different things, and as leaders, it's our job to find out what motivates each unique member of our team. Drawing from that fundamental aspect of leadership, we also need to recognize that our team members most likely want to be shown appreciation differently.There are some things to consider when it comes to recognizing our team members. Overdoing praise could cause teams to become complacent. Additionally, praise should be earned, not given for the sake of giving it. With that said, as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, here are some ways you can show your team that their efforts, adaptability, and contributions have not been overlooked during this turbulent year.

  • Publicize a Thank You. Some people desire public recognition. It gives them confidence and fuels their fire to work hard for the organization. If you have team members who appreciate public displays of gratitude, carve out some time on your last team call before Thanksgiving to genuinely thank them. But some people, on the other hand, do not like to be recognized publicly. Before you send that company-wide email, think about the impact of publicly thanking someone who doesn't enjoy public praise.
  • Private Thank You. Instead of spending your one-on-one hour with a member of your team talking numbers or opportunities, thoughtfully prepare a few slides of their accomplishments. Highlight the impact they have had on the team and the organization overall, being as specific as possible. This act of gratitude can go a lot further than a generic, albeit genuine, thank you.
  • Time Off. The Carew office will be closed the entire week of Thanksgiving this year (many thanks to our CEO, Jeff Seeley). Every member of our team will be able to spend extra time with their families, relax, and enjoy the holiday. This is obviously not something that all organizations can afford to do, nor is it something that all employees may want. To some, time off means time out of the field, which could decrease sales and/or productivity. Time off does not have to be extreme. Can you allow someone to leave early on a Friday afternoon or come in a little later than usual? It could be impactful and show your gratitude for their hard work.
  • Handwritten Note. There is so much power in a handwritten note. Often, it holds more meaning than a verbalized "thank you." Think about mailing a letter or card to members of your team ‚Äì it shows you put thought and effort into expressing your feelings.
  • Internal Networking Opportunities. Some team members may have ambitions to become leaders themselves. Arranging a call, meeting, mentor opportunity, or a simple note from a company executive could be an opportunity to show top-performing team members that they have not only impacted your team but the company as a whole.
  • Money, Gifts, & Experiences. Of course, these are always great options for showing appreciation to employees. Sometimes budget restrictions can get in the way, but money, gifts, and experiences are on this list for a reason ‚Äì they are worthwhile and can be an impactful "thank you" to many.

Every member of your team is unique. As a leader, you must consider how - and in what way - each person would best receive your thanks. Who would appreciate a public display of appreciation, and who would prefer one-on-one? Consider the impact of additional time off, handwritten notes, and financial rewards this Thanksgiving season. Expressing gratitude as a sales leader helps cultivate a positive work culture, and it is extremely important in motivating your individual team members to be the best they can be.