During this Thanksgiving Season, be the role model for recognition and appreciation!

This week is the Thanksgiving Holiday in the United States. It’s a good time for leaders to step back from the hustle and bustle and reflect on how they have thanked their teams for their hard work and contributions.

Thanksgiving observations are also common around the world, either to recognize the hard work of labor, such as the Kinro Knasha no Hi national holiday in Japan, or more traditional celebrations, giving thanks for the harvest, such as Erntedankfest in Germany, the harvest moon observance in the United Kingdom, and the Canadian Thanksgiving in October.

Many employee surveys show that employees do not feel that their leaders recognize their work.[i]

Why not? I know in my case, it can be the urgency of day-to-day business, the pressure to meet deadlines, feeling under resourced or the need to plan the next project. Is it the same for you?

Many managers have told me that they skimp on “saying thanks” because it has become too complicated.  Should they thank an employee with a monetary gift card or cash bonus? Does the gift need to be registered online with human resources or with their company’s recognition technology software?

Many managers are also concerned that employees will have expectations about being thanked, which gets back to monetary expectations. Other concerns include equity – Nancy received a $100 gift card for her initiative to help out a marketing team, while Garret received $250 when he finished a software upgrade early, and it helped improve revenue.  Is this fair?

Why make it so complex?

Recognition is about recognizing the achievements of your employees. It is about you as a leader!

The simple fact is, saying thanks is incredibly easy, and it doesn’t have to take long, or cost a lot of money.  Don’t get me wrong – I am not opposed to monetary rewards for employees who take initiative and go the extra mile. But, money is not the only way to say thank you and reinforce the principles of your company—and your leadership.

Monetary bonuses are not the same as recognition. Personal recognition provides specific praise and conveys feeling, hopefully a sense of appreciation, pride and affirmation.  Even in this age of smart phones, Facebook and 24/7 connectivity, every employee needs that personal touch, praise and feedback, professional relationships and a sense of belonging.

Giving immediate praise and feedback isn’t expensive, and it is easy to do!

I recommend these simple steps:

  1. Smile and look the employee straight in the eye.
  2. Thank him or her for their good work.
  3. Be specific about what was important about their accomplishment and its positive impact on the organization.
  4. Capture the moment by telling them how it makes you feel, such as, “I am glad you are a member of our team,” or “You are making a significant impact here.”
  5. Shake their hand.

Wherever you are around the globe, I hope that you and your family have much to be thankful for. And, remember to thank your employees!

Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday in the U.S., I will not be posting a blog on November 29th. Happy Thanksgiving!

Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, innovation, and other strategic initiatives, such as mergers and acquisitions, strategy implementation, and flexible workplace. You can learn more about employee recognition by reading his white paper, “Performance Management: Are You Aligning Employee Passion to Company Purpose? Time for an Overhaul!” from his website at http://www.victorhrconsultant.com

[i] “Employee Recognition Survey. (August 2014). American Psychological Association.  Retrieved from http://www.apaexcellence.org/assets/general/employee-recogntion-survey-results.pdf.

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