The power of 'Thank you': Letting employees know they are appreciated goes a long way

Many assume that admitting ignorance about and asking for help in understanding specific things is somehow a sign of weakness, but in many cases it is a sign of mature leadership.
Being made to feel part of a team with the CEO is a strong morale builder. (Image: Getty Images)

Whether it be asking their opinion, supplying latitude or not pigeonholing them, it doesn’t take much to show employees you appreciate them.

And with that appreciation comes goodwill toward the CEO, making the employee more motivated and willing to take extra steps.

“I stop by my employees’ offices to ask them what they’re working on, and ask their opinions on things,” said Dan Biederman, president of The Bryant Park Corporation. “I want them to know I care about them and value their opinions. I try not to let any of my 35-40 office employees go too long without touching them in this way and making them feel involved in the process.”

Liz Bywater, president of Bywater Consulting, takes this approach:

  • Thank them. The simple acting of saying, “Thank you, I appreciate it” goes a long way. Don’t be sparing with verbal recognition and appreciation.
  • Offer them some flexibility. If you truly value your employees, you will be thoughtful in responding to requests, such as the ability to work from home when a family member is ill. 
  • Listen. Ask meaningful questions, get their perspective, invite their ideas. Implement the excellent ideas and give credit where due.
  • Nominate them for awards. With or without monetary compensation, awards are an opportunity to shine in front of senior management, colleagues, family and friends. If your employees have gone above and beyond, show them how much you value their efforts. 

RELATED: CEOs need patience, skill and respect to motivate employees

“It's important to manage each person in a way that brings out their individual best, encourages creativity and maintains a professional work environment for all,” said Sandy Rubinstein, CEO DXagency. “I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for some of the best and some of the not so best. You remember fondly those who were good to you, but you learn the most from those who were not. I have seen firsthand how demoralizing and deflating a manager can be whether by design or by accident.”

“Give your team the latitude and the permission to think big and back them 100 percent if they miss the mark,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “I find, especially with employees who come from heavily managed enterprises, that a certain fear of failure exists. A robotic, cover your bases approach can stunt creativity. Instilling a bit of intellectual freedom and a dose of confidence produces satisfying outcomes.”

John Trahar, co-founder of Greatest Common Factory,  feels “context is critical​ in motivating people. We identify where our employees' and clients' interests and values overlap, and what our clients need that our employees love to do. That way we can create assignments that achieve results meaningful and relevant to both.”

It's “deflating to pigeonhole complex people into one-dimensional roles,” Trahar said. “So, we encourage everyone to take on all they can do, not just what their role says their job is. While we celebrate pro-active, boundary-pushing efforts, we don't reward 'that's not my job.'”

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Trahar also tells staff “the truth about our company. We hold a mostly weekly meeting to make sure everyone is up to speed on what is in the pipeline, how cashflow is looking and what we are doing as a group and individually to move business forward in way that benefits us all.” 

To show employees he values them, Redtail Technology CEO Brian McLaughlin:

  • Gives them a voice. Redtail holds open forums for employees to formally pitch any benefits they want offered. If 75 % of employees agree, it will then become company policy.
  • Invests in them. Job postings are released internally before approaching outside applicants. The purpose is to create an environment where employees can thrive in any position they are in.
  • Shares a piece of the pie. As a non-commission company, Redtail offers a 10% revenue profit share. This surplus is used as the pool for annual bonuses.

“There are ways to show employees that you value them both at the organization level and individually,” said Michael Perez, president of Nautilus HR. 

“A major reason that employees leave is dissatisfaction with the relationship between them and their direct manager, so it’s important for managers to take the time to build the relationship directly with their team member. Getting to know them personally, taking the time to greet them each day and engage in conversations other than work are important. Learn what motivates them and how they like to be rewarded (not just money) and recognized for a job well done. (public versus private, individual versus group). Your investment here will pay off handsomely,” he added.

RELATED: Greg Samios, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., on making employees really count

“Organizationally, having a core set of values and living by them is paramount. Measuring not just “what” gets done, but “how” it gets done, speaks volumes about an organization’s commitment to its people and customers.”

Mike de Waal, president of Global IQX, values employees in the following ways:

  • Creates clearly defined objectives.  Moving the goalposts and giving murky, unspecific expectations sabotages your team and does nothing for motivation.
  • Lets employees do their jobs—he doesn’t micromanage them. The best leaders establish clear standards and expectations and allow their employees the freedom to meet these objectives on their own, he said.
  • Honesty breeds respect and loyalty. While you don’t have to share every detail as it comes to light, you should always strive to be honest with employees so they understand the upcoming risks and rewards.
  • Integrity is the glue that holds all qualities together. Building a stellar team, setting clear objectives, trusting the talent and unapologetic honesty require demonstrated integrity of word and deed.