Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Four Ways to Show Thanksgiving in Leadership

Four Ways to Show Thanksgiving in Leadership

    Showing thanksgiving as a leader is a very important task to do.  It is important that our teams realize that we share the successes as well as the failures.  I am talking about more than just performance appraisals and feedback.  I am talking about the showing of gratitude by leaders to their subordinates. 

    It is far too easy for subordinates to feel like cogs in a machine due to the everyday swing of operations.  It is important as leaders that we instill a sense of appreciation in our team, after all, they are the ones doing the work.  As leaders, we need to explore the various reasons why to show thanksgiving and then the ways to convey gratitude to our team.

Why Show Gratitude?

    To some people this may seem silly, and hopefully you are one of them.  Showing gratitude is a very important part of maintaining healthy relationships within a team.  Your team needs to know that you appreciate them, and the benefits of them understanding this are many.  A team that feels thanksgiving from their leader or management are more likely to perform, respond to pressure to perform, trust their management more, and have overall healthier relationships with their management team.  Teams who feel that their leadership is thankful for their work are also happier to be a part of a team, which directly boosts day to day morale.  There is something to be said about how individual confidence is maximized when team members believe that their superiors are thankful for their service, and confident team members boost the overall performance of the team.

Four Ways to Show Thanksgiving in Leadership

1. Immediate Follow-Ups

    The most applicable and used technique of showing thankfulness as a leader is certainly the follow-up.  When I refer to follow-up, I am talking about delegating a task, and then following up to assess whether that task was completed adequately.  When you delegate as a leader and follow up to find that the task was successfully completed, an important relationship building tool is to then follow up with the individual that the task was delegated to and let them know that you followed up.  Expressing thankfulness for the successful completion of the task yields multiple benefits.

    The first benefit is one that impacts your span of influence as a manager.  If you delegate a task to an individual and follow up, that communicates that you care about the task and you are willing to see if it will be completed.  It also communicates that the task that you delegated was a chunk of important authority that deserved a part of your attention, and it was not just some mindless drivel that you blindly sent someone off to do in order to keep them busy.  The end game to this is that when you delegate in the future, this individual as well as other individuals uninvolved will be more than willing to carry the authority that you give to them with the delegation, and strive to successfully carry out the task.  The showing of gratitude at the finality of this is the final stamp that seals this exchange.  The delivery of the gratitude can be as simple as a “Thank you”, or “Good job.”

2. Huddle Meeting Topics

    Every day my team and I typically have a start-up and final huddle meeting.  By design during both huddle meetings, on my agenda is a short time set aside to recognize excellence, positive performance, or goals achieved.  It is important that we show thankfulness in this type of forum in front of our team as-a-whole.  By doing this, we completely remove the potential label of us being closed-souled slave-drivers and boost our chances of being perceived by our team as thankful leaders of a successful team.

    Taking time to recognize others and show our thankfulness for their work will create an atmosphere for the positive relationships that are required of a fully functional team and will create great relationships between everyone.  It is important when doing group recognition to identify the correct behaviors to recognize, and publicly thank those who are excelling.  This will create an atmosphere of competition among the team to strive to achieve this type of recognition while supplying those who do excel with the delight of public acknowledgement.

    Despite many people showing bashfulness or unwillingness to accept public displays of thanks and gratitude, I believe the benefits are clear regardless.  No matter the degree of the individual rejecting the public acknowledgement, the benefits of acknowledgement still exist.

3. Performance Appraisal

    A performance appraisal is a regular discussion between a leader and subordinate where the leader outlines how the individual has been performing.  Even in the event of a performance appraisal that contains criticisms and coaching for improved performance, it is still important to show thankfulness.  As leaders we should adopt a thankful attitude to those who are willing to follow us, and even if for no other reason, we should take this opportunity for thanking the individual for being a part of our team.  Depending on the flavor of the performance appraisal, we may include this in the open, close, or both.  We may also center the performance appraisal around our gratitude for having the team member a continuing part of our team in the case of high performing team members.  In any case, we should take a bit of time during our performance appraisals to let our team members know how much we appreciate them.

    Often a performance appraisal is an intimate time between a manager and an employee.  These experiences are memorable and usually either painful or extremely delightful.  A good manager is able to take a performance appraisal that would otherwise be painful and turn it into a situation that both parties can walk away from feeling enlightened and not confused.  Expressing thankfulness and gratitude during these events is one way that we can have a positive impact on the situation in multiple ways.  We can deepen the relationship with our employees as well as create a positive atmosphere for the performance appraisal.

4. Human Conversation

    All too often as leaders we are seen by our team as just another cog in the machine of an organization.  We are thought of just as managers and not as humans, and managers can’t be thankful, right?  Sometimes we need to appeal to our team as fellow humans and reveal that we have human emotions and feelings.  I believe we can do this by engaging in a normal human exchange of words, and then once we are here, we are able to display gratitude.  This will be in a different forum than the other suggestions, and it will probably be more well received, because we are communicating as people, and not as businessmen or businesswomen.  Successfully interjecting thanks into a normal human conversation with members of our team will allow us to deliver a personally received message of thanks that is able to impact our team members on a deeper level than a professional thanks.

The Take Away

    As leaders, it is important that we value our team members as individual humans that follow us in order to complete goals that we subscribe to.  The very act of having those willing to genuinely follow you is a compliment.  We should be thankful for this opportunity, and while we are unable to hide this if it is the case, it is also impossible to hide it if it is not the case.  I challenge every leader in the world to communicate a message of thankfulness and gratitude to their team during this holiday season.  I also challenge anyone who believes that this isn’t tied to your goals to try it and assess your situation after you create a culture of gratitude among your team.  I believe you, like myself, will have concrete proof in the development of your relationships as well as the performance of your team clearly apparent as a result of your show of gratitude.

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