When "Thank You" Isn't Enough
We thank everyone -- the pharmacist who fills our prescriptions, the postal carrier who delivers our mail and even the stranger who holds the door open for us at the grocery store, but we often ignore the people who work diligently for us and give their best efforts. I'm talking about employees, subordinates, temporary workers, and even volunteers. These are the people -- often in the background -- who help make an organization run smoothly, yet can easily be overlooked when it comes to gratitude.
On Employee Benefit News, an article titled, 6 ways to show gratitude to employees, emphatically states that a heartfelt thank you is only one piece of the recognition "pie." In order to truly inspire the workforce, it's crucial to show them that they're valued by continually challenging the workforce. While it's definitely good to commend a worthy employee for doing his or her best, by offering a challenge you can maintain a high degree of motivation. Thank the employees responsible for properly completing a task and then move on by giving them another suitably challenging project to tackle. In the process of assigning new tasks, it's equally important to communicate how much each employee is valued in relation to the project. The clichéd, "we couldn't have done it without you" is a basic example, but may be accurate when someone truly was the key element of a project.
In order to build a strong foundation and establish positive working relationships with employees, managers who care about their personnel will show appropriate gratitude by going beyond the basics of a simple thank you. They can provide an opportunity that may be outside an employee's day-to-day scope. If it's something that they would be passionate about doing, this is an excellent way to show appreciation. They can meet all direct reports and team members. By spending time with them, they'll keep current with whatever contributions they make, and managers should also celebrate when their success leads to a personal or team goal being accomplished. Furthermore, the team should be allowed to meet with the manager anytime. Managers who have an "open door" policy should actually keep their door -- and mind -- open to all issues. And when managers are meeting with an employee, they should not forget to look them in the eye since making eye contact shows that they're interested and fully engaged in the conversation. Doing anything else shows the employee that his or her manager would rather not listen to them and can be very discouraging. Finally, anyone in a leadership role should lead by example. Honest sincerity can be hugely influential and if it's genuine, employees are more likely to be willing to follow a leader to an extent they normally would not dare go. Plus, that sincerity will rub off and lead to a great corporate culture.
People respond differently and it's important to listen and know what types of gratification and motivation work best for each particular employee. Leaders who have figured this out and routinely show that they care about their employees and are thankful for the jobs they do will be rewarded with people who perform at their highest level.