Did you know January is National “Thank You” Month? How can something so easy to say … be so hard to do?

At our deepest level, every human being has a craving to be appreciated. We all want to know that what we do makes a difference. We want to know even our very existence matters to someone. That need to be recognized or appreciated is not something bad. To some degree, it’s just a part of how every person is wired.ThankYou1

I truly believe that most people come to work every day to do a good job. Unfortunately, they get sucked up in the whirlwind of the day-to-day operations of doing business which causes the team to lose focus. They become distracted, they focus more on “tasks” rather than “outcomes,” and, before long, they lose their sense of direction. These are good people on your team, but they’re drifting. And most people don’t drift to remarkable performance.While recognition programs can run the gamut, what I love about using gratitude as a leadership strategy is this … Showing appreciation for a job well done says we care, you matter, you’re making a difference, and we want you to do it again! Showing gratutide creates a sense of loyalty and respect among the team and it motivates people to continually look for ways to improve their performance.  And what I like most … Expressing appreciation with a smile and a “Thank You” costs so little but can mean so much.  Here are a few effective strategies for showing recognition to others:

  1. Catch people doing something remarkable … and then recognize it!  Don’t recognize “good” or “average” performance because it then makes your  recognition meaningless. Look for the 3 E’s … Performance that was Excellent, Exceeded Expectations, or Excelled the team’s mission!
  2. Mix up your approach. Sometimes you may have a private conversation where you say “thank you.” Other times you may want to recognize them publicly or possibly even send a note card. Know your team member and how they prefer to be recognized. And, while you’re at it, make sure you cc their boss. If that’s you, drop a note in their personal file so you can refer back to it when it’s time to complete their annual performance review.
  3. When saying “thank you,” be specific. What did they do that made a difference?  Being specific helps them better understand what it takes to “win again.” As long as that is clear, they will continue to strive for remarkable performance again and again and again!

Exercising leadership and saying “Thank You” more often can be a game changer for your team! Don’t wait. Start today!

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge:  In the past seven days, did someone on your team do something remarkable? Have you recognized them? Does your team know how much you appreciate them?  How do they know? When was the last time you praised someone for doing a great job? And what about your family … Do they know how much you appreciate them? How often do you say “Thank You” to your spouse or  child? Before you do anything else, take a moment to tell someone “Thank You.”