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 his or 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 is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and 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.