A simple “thank you” can truly go a long way. Whether it’s around the boardroom table, in a Slack channel, or privately outside the workplace, the act of showing gratitude can lift the spirits of anyone receiving some positive praise.
As a leader or manager, showing gratitude for your team is particularly important. As you close out an exciting week, quarter, or year with your team, you hopefully feel #blessed 🙏🏻 for the hard work they put in every day.
But how, and how often, are you thanking them for their effort?
Expressing and receiving gratitude, especially in the workplace, is tied to increased productivity and efficiency. When your team feels appreciated and valued, the benefits are invaluable.
Learn these five ways to give thanks to your team and how a culture of gratitude can positively influence your workplace culture.
Why You Should Have An Attitude Of Gratitude
As a leader, one of your main responsibilities is to empower your team to do their best work. There are only so many goals you can set and cups of coffees the team can drink to consistently pump out top-quality ideas, products, and services.
And there are plenty of productivity hacks to get everyone in formation to work together toward common goals, but expressing gratitude is a sure-fire way to get everyone motivated as well.
Research studies reveal that gratitude has a positive impact on a person’s moral cognition, value judgement, and theory of mind.
In a 2017 study by a group of researchers at University of Southern California (USC), 23 participants were shown video testimonials of Holocaust survivors describing gifts received from strangers at some point in their struggle to survive (such as clothing, food, etc.) The participants were then asked to pretend they were the survivors and rate their level of gratitude for the gifts.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during this exercise and found that this analysis of gratitude was directly correlated with certain brain activity that is associated with empathy, impulse control, emotion, and decision-making. In addition to several other studies, researchers have identified a relationship between gratitude and positive neurobiological activity.
Gratitude is also effective beyond the individual level.
In a 2011 study, Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that a little thanks goes a long way. In four experiments, they found that participants who were thanked for their participation experienced stronger feelings of self-efficacy and social worth, which motivated them to engage in prosocial behavior. The study also found that when it comes to prosocial behavior, feeling valued is even more important than feeling competent.
And in a 2012 study of 1,700 employees by the American Psychological Association (APA), researchers found that more than half of the employees who were looking for new jobs felt under-appreciated and undervalued. In other words, gratitude expression increased a person’s feeling of being valued and in turn, encouraged them to put in more effort during the next encounter with the person who expressed thanks and appreciation.
Bottom line—This culture of gratitude is extremely important to motivate employees to do their best work and have a high level of job satisfaction.
5 Ways To Show Gratitude To Your Team
It’s important, now more than ever, to give thanks. Here are a few ways to show that much-needed, hug-inducing appreciation and recognition towards your team and colleagues.
1. Provide Sincere And Consistent Recognition
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward
Yes, showing gratitude is as simple as saying “thank you.” However, you should take the time to recognize this person for something specific they did such as delivering that client project under deadline, providing exceptional support to a team member, or even pet-sitting their cat last Friday.
You can also show you care by taking the delivery of your thanks one step further. Some people love public praise and others appreciate a private pat on the back.
Since you’re taking the time to provide personalized recognition, you can also take the time to learn how this person likes to receive it.
You can simply ask them in a 1:1 meeting as to how they like to receive compliments. If they like private recognition, then write them a thank-you note or send a direct message on Slack. If they prefer public acknowledgement, then go ahead and share those congratulations at the next office party with the whole team.
Understanding how your team members like to accept gratitude can go a long way in showing that you truly care about their preferences.
2. Give A Thoughtful Gift
A common way to show appreciation for your employees or coworkers is to give a physical or monetary gift. This is a common ritual in Japanese workplaces. It’s called omiyage.
Japan has a strong culture of gift-giving and it’s not restrained to personal relationships. Omiyage is the ritual of bringing your coworkers a gift or souvenir, such as a box of local goods, when you take a trip or vacation. It’s a way to show gratitude and good intentions to your coworkers who have “covered” for you while you were out of the office.
So if you can’t find the words, then give a great gift for that person on your team who deserves that recognition. Wrap that thanks with a bow and show them how grateful you are for their efforts at work.
3. Get Your Team Involved
Showing gratitude doesn’t always have to come in the form of verbal recognition or a physical gift. Giving thanks to others directly affects their perception of appreciation and value so what better way to do this than by involving your team in important projects and tasks.
Employees feel valued when they can participate in decision-making and their skills are actually being used to the benefit of the company.
If you have a new product launch coming up, then identify the people on your team who have the skill sets and would be excited to participate in an impactful for the company. A 2012 study by the Society of Human Resource Management revealed that 63% of respondents listed the ability to use their skills as the top driver of their job satisfaction.
Next time you have the opportunity, keep the correlation between gratitude and appreciation high by involving your employees and team members in projects and tasks that show off and strengthen their skills.
4. Listen With Intent
This is another simple but impactful way to practice gratitude and to show you value your team. Especially as a leader, you may assume you should be the one doing all the talking and driving. This assumption is far from the truth.
The best leaders are the ones who take the time to really listen to their employees and colleagues.
One of the main purposes of expressing gratitude is to show your appreciation for another. So there’s no better way to show appreciation than by listening intently to your team’s ideas, dreams, and feedback. The next time you are in a meeting or having a conversation with someone on your team, make an effort to listen with intent.
Silence those email notifications, remove any other distractions whether it’s an in-person conversation or a video call, and put that listening hat on.
5. Create A Kudos Culture
"The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement." -Charles Schwab
At the end of the day, your team wants to feel appreciated and valued. But this culture shouldn’t be fostered by one person or just a handful of people.
People in your company may be hesitant to express gratitude or applaud someone for a job well done so you can facilitate the opportunities to provide this recognition.
For example, your weekly team meeting can have a 10-minute thanks session in which the floor is open for anyone on the team to recognize a colleague for going the extra mile that week. If your team is always chatting on Slack, then create a designated #kudos channel for anyone to give a shout-out to a coworker.
This collective approach to expressing gratitude will help the practice become second nature to everyone on your team.
Give Thanks And Watch Your Team’s Productivity Prosper
If you’re looking for ways to motivate your team, a simple thank you is the key ingredient you’ve been missing in your organizational recipe for success. Don’t wait until the office pizza party to express all your gratitude at once. Consistent and regular expressions of gratitude are essential to fostering and maintaining a thankful culture.
Now, go ahead and give some thanks to your team 🙌 They deserve it.