Many managers don’t place expressing gratitude high on their list of priorities. They may believe common leadership myths about how being too quick to show appreciation and offering praise may hurt their reputation. These myths are often associated with fear-based management techniques, in which instilling fear in employees is the best way to motivate them. Some managers are so critical that they save their praise for exemplary performances only.
And then some managers either claim to have no time to offer praise or that their teams don’t need it. However, managers that withhold praise whether intentionally or not, are missing out. Expressing gratitude for effort and performance is one of the most effective ways to raise morale, which leads to increased motivation and productivity. However, there is some truth in being too quick to offer praise, particularly if it’s forced. Because while expressing gratitude is a deliberate leadership strategy, it’s only effective if it’s authentic. Here are eight powerful gratitude practices that increase positivity and commitment:
1. Gain insight from employees
Expressions of gratitude don’t always come in the form of praise or compliments; leaders can show how much they value their employees by asking for their input on important business decisions. Not only does this increase engagement, but it also encourages employees to step up and showcase their potential.
2. Applaud even small victories
Paying attention to small wins and acknowledging them are great drivers for motivation. It tells employees that they’re on track and helps keep them focused on their progress. It also keeps you updated and engaged.
3. Individualize gestures of praise
Gestures of praise won’t feel authentic when they’re not tailored for the person meant to receive them. Therefore, generic expressions will have little impact because the lack of effort is evident. When you praise verbally, be sure to use names and specific observations.
4. Develop empathy
Taking an interest in your employee’s activities shows them you care and are appreciative of their efforts. Ask them about their day to better understand what it takes for them to meet company standards and deliver output. This insight may even help you see gaps in the processes that keep your employees from performing better.
5. Gather the facts before making assumptions
Show you have faith in your employees even when they fail by not jumping to conclusions. Too often, employees don’t perform as expected when they lack resources or training. Be deliberate and conscious of your reactions. Speak to the employee directly and gain an understanding of what led to the failure before reacting.
6. Involve team members
Gratitude can be infectious. When you involve other team members in praising an employee who has performed well, the others recognize your organization as one that appreciates their efforts. This fosters better relationships between team members and leadership and also builds trust.
7. Don’t wait for performance reviews
Praise good performances as they happen. Waiting for performance reviews to praise work done well means opportunities to express gratitude are rare. Employees also won’t feel the impact of the praise because the mentioned behaviors or outputs may have happened months ago.
8. Reinforce behaviors
Meeting deadlines or achieving KPIs are not the only events worthy of praise. Celebrate employees that demonstrate valuable behaviors that align with company culture and philosophies. Examples of this would be praising an employee that represented the company well by showing honesty and integrity in a situation when some people wouldn’t.
How do you foster a culture of gratitude in your organization? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the conversation.