How a Grateful Attitude Can Improve Your Effectiveness

When asked the question, “How good is your company at showing thanks/recognition to its employees?” more than half of those surveyed believe they do a great job. A very significant percentage of their employees, however, would beg to differ. And, much of that is due to the fact that companies (as a generalization) do not understand the importance placed on recognition by employees nor what those employees expect as the outcomes. Additionally, it’s probably safe to say that, if companies aren’t faring well in this area as a whole, their CEOs independently may not receive high marks either.

According to a recent survey conducted by Work.com, employees take recognition quite seriously. More so than you may think. The results, in fact, reveal the following:

  • 78 percent of U.S. workers say proper motivation is what motivates them to deliver their best work
  • 49 percent of employees would leave current job for one with better management recognition
  • 63 percent of employees intend to leave their job in the next two years due to lack of respect in current position
  • 69 percent of employees say they would work harder if they received better recognition for their efforts

Meeting the Need

There are many ways in which you, personally, and the company as a whole, can show appreciation to employees. I’ve listed a few for you here, but being creative is something that will set you apart and make your employees (and others) take notice [example: Apple’s Tim Cook]. So, don’t feel limited to these.

  • Verbal acknowledgement—People like to hear, “Thank you; you did a great job.” This is especially true when it’s coming from the CEO. Remember that sometimes just verbally expressing your gratitude for someone’s hard work is enough to satisfy their need for recognition and even make their day.
  • Group praise—As great as verbal praise is on its own, sometimes the act of recognizing efforts in front of peers is an even greater reward. This is an approach with mutual benefits. Not only does it potentially award the receiving employee, it also has the ability to motivate coworkers to achieve the same.
  • Increased opportunities—When an employee does an especially good job, additional opportunity for job growth is a great way to recognize it. This doesn’t have to be a paid role change. It only need include a recognition of the effort with a verbal offering to take on one or more important task since he/she did so well with the current task.
  • Award or tangible asset—Of course, there is always the failsafe: a trophy, plaque, ribbon, certificate, or even something less tangible, like a day off or extra-long lunch hour.

The Right Way

As with everything in business, there is a right and a wrong way to go about this. To get it right from the start, there are two pieces of advice. First, get to know your employees. Knowing their first and last names is mandatory, but delving a bit further to get to know the people behind the employee will help make connections and build trusting relationships that make recognition an easy task. Second, get a feel for what they like and don’t like. This is especially necessary with recognition because what one employee values or will likely be completely different than the next. For instance, Jane may be so shy, group recognition would actually embarrass as opposed to award her; and Derek may care a bit about a trophy because all he really wants is flex time to spend with his daughter.

As the CEO or senior executive, it is not expected that you will be all to everyone. No one expects you to take this measure with all employees in your company. You should, however, take this to heart with your direct reports, remembering this: How you treat your direct reports and what you show them to be important will be adopted down the line. Pretty soon, you have a company culture fraught with gratitude and happy employees.