How to Say Thanks

By Dr. Mary Kay

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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Last week I met with a new customer and noticed the employees working very hard.

I went up to each employee and commented, “Wow, you guys are really knocking it out of the park!”  You should have seen their expression – they looked like this was the first time they had been acknowledged in a long time.

The more leaders see how hard their teams are working and how much the organization’s productivity is increasing; as a result, the more obvious it becomes that a reward of some sort is in order.

Is it Time to Have Pizza?

Many leaders wonder, what is the appropriate celebratory offering? Handshakes? Free lunches? Gift cards? Monetary bonuses? It’s difficult sometimes to tell exactly what the right reward would be in a given situation, and sometimes the accomplishment can be so exciting it would seem like it’s appropriate to go all out.

But grand gestures are not always necessary to let your team members know that you’ve noticed their outstanding work. Sometimes, it is just a simple handshake and a “congratulations” that make a difference.

Try the Simple Approach

Not every employee needs to see their name in lights; a lot of attention can be embarrassing to some people, who would prefer a more private, personal acknowledgment.

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to know your team members well enough to discern which of them want a low-key approach and which would appreciate a little more fanfare.

Thanking each individual in their own preferred way can go a long way toward building and maintaining your foundation of trust and encouraging them to continue the high productivity for which they are being rewarded.

Leadership Challenge for All of Us

Take a minute and acknowledge someone this week that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Let them know in a sincere, heartfelt way how much you appreciate her contribution. Please take a minute and let us know at About Leaders how it went in the comments section below. It is important we learn from each other “how to say thanks.

I’d Love to Hear From You

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and co-founder of the About Leaders community. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained thousands of leaders. Her Ultimate Leader Success course helps managers become more confident, decisive leaders. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
  • chris fickes says:

    This is a core issue for every business—no matter how successful. And not saying thanks is an easy item to spot as well—when people act surprised to praise or positive feedback it’s often a reflection on the leaders of that business, and in turn, the culture of that business.

    Thanking the team in a simple way, as Dr. Mary Kay points out, will make a true difference.

    A thought on thanking them: when you can, try to be as specific as possible because general thanks can be shrugged off or seen as insincere. If a senior manager is coming to your facility, provide them with specific talking points for praise.

    And if you aren’t sure how your people would like to be appreciated, ask them. You might be surprised at the ideas you receive or the gestures they’d appreciate most.

    Chris Fickes

    CKF Consulting

    416 Lena Lane

    Franklin, TN 37067

    (215) 622-1590

  • M.S.Kannan says:

    This Article depicts the perfect paradigm the leaders are in today’s context. Thanks everyone should practice to say to others for their time,effort,energy,money,kindness spent with the association.

    Shy away from Thanking employee costs as much as your business stake while a Simple thanks returns multiple fold of success & togetherness.


    SVP Cherrytec intelisolve Limited.

  • Greg Martin says:

    Great post that shows the power of two simple words, “Thank You.” One way I have shown appreciation towards my employees for good work, or an accomplishment was to send them a hand written Thank You note or card to their home. Nothing more in my opinion shows you appreciate someone than taking time to show them that they matter.

  • Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker says:

    Hi Chris – Love the takeaway for talking points for senior managers. Great feedback for managers and a accurate resource for them to provide specific acknowledgements. Thanks for your comments.

  • Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker says:

    Thanks M.S. for adding to the discussion that a “simple thanks” multiplies success in “returns and togetherness”.

    Hi Greg – Yes, getting a written card at home would be very powerful. Great idea that really makes a thank you meaningful and something you always remember.

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