Everything that’s genuine happens in real-time, not on a planned day. Thanksgiving is a great day to celebrate everything that you are thankful for but if it’s the only time of year that you, as a leader, show gratitude for your employees, they probably won’t take you seriously.
If employees look through their inbox and the only thank you message they received all year from you is from this week, they’re probably wondering if you really meant it. When employees work hard and accomplish great results, it makes you look good too. Show your gratitude all year long so when Thanksgiving comes along, your thank you message feels normal and authentic. Employees will appreciate you more if you appreciate them all year long.
Showing how thankful you are for your employees is not a difficult thing to do, nor is it expensive. Here are some free or cheap ways to show you really appreciate people throughout the year:
- Just say, “Thank you.” Sometimes, this is all it takes.
- Make sure that you give employees specific feedback not just when they do something wrong but also when they do great things. Tell them what a positive impact they have on the team, the organization or the mission. Don’t just let them know that you appreciate them but why you appreciate them.
- Give great people great opportunities. Whether this is sending them to a conference on the department’s dime, offering up a high-profile or highly desired project for them to lead or promoting them. This gesture of gratitude not only shows employees how much you appreciate them but it keeps them around longer. When you give your best employees opportunities, they will be encouraged and motivated to be even better for you.
- Give your employees a day off or half day off if they’ve been working a lot of extra hours to meet a deadline.
- You can never go wrong with food. Bring in coffee or breakfast to start off a day you know will be very long for your team. Order in pizza for your team if they have to stay late to get stuff done.
Everything on the list above is more than enough to show your appreciation. Here’s a bonus tip: personalize your appreciation. Make it a point to really get to know your employees – what they like, what motivates them and what means a lot to them. I have a pretty good memory so I make a mental note of these things but you can also keep a journal so you never forget these things. Use what you learn about your employees to personalize your recognition efforts. Not everyone wants the same thing. This will also come in handy during the holidays if you plan to get gifts for your employees. It’s much less stressful when you know what they like.
Making mental or written notes all year long is like conducting a stress-free annual performance review. If you do it all the time, it is so much easier when you’re forced to do it at the end of the year.