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Thanksgiving offers us a time to sit back and reflect on all the things we should be grateful for – both personally and professionally. Like many of us, we will begin to get wrapped up in the holiday madness and forget to thank the people that help us day-in and day-out, work the long hours, and miss time with their own family to make the lives of families in the community just that much better.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to show gratitude and appreciation to those staff members over the next few weeks and beyond.

Demonstrate overt appreciation for daily employee commitment in the face of incredible stress and untenable demands.

Sustained public acknowledgement at every turn is crucial, as well as an expectation that acknowledgement must become the norm from peer to peer. This approach embraces the power of each person left on the payroll to contribute to the overall culture of the organization. Creating a culture of appreciation happens one leader at a time. Leaders are alive and well at all organizational levels.  Let the leaders lead. And don’t assume they all live at the top of the organizational chart.

Show Employees That You Have Noticed Their Efforts.

When employees work hard on your organization's behalf, they deserve your thanks and appreciation. Don’t take it for granted, for example, when employees put in extra hours or turn out an incredibly well-thought-out project. Make sure they know that you have noticed their efforts. For that matter, don’t even take it for granted that they show up every day. (As the economy continues to improve, employees have an increasingly wide array of potential employers to choose from!)

A great way to build team spirit and nurture a positive culture is to send out written acknowledgments or make an announcement when a person does something that positively affects the organization. Not only does saying “thank you” as publicly as possible give individual employees the warm fuzzies, it causes the whole team to gain more respect for their coworkers.

Recognize and Demonstrate.

Humble leaders not only recognize the contributions of others, they demonstrate gratitude. They say "thank you" and "I'm grateful." Followers connect with grateful leaders and they too begin to feel grateful for the opportunity to serve and do great things together.

Thank up; thank down; thank out; and thank around.

Thank up. When supervisors take the time to support you, provide you with an opportunity, or include you in something to which you’re not usually privy—thank them. Chances are, the next time they are deciding to whom they will extend an invitation, your name will appear higher on the list than it might have had you failed to recognize an earlier kindness.

Thank down. Maybe your team stayed late to finish a project. Perchance someone put forth extra effort to create a presentation. Perhaps an employee who has had a hard time meeting expectations finally does so. If you want those types of activities to continue to occur on any kind of regular basis, you need to recognize them.

Thank out. Colleagues will support you if they feel you acknowledge their efforts. If you want to grow and build your network and workplace support system, those are the people you must cultivate. Doesn’t it make sense to nurture the relationships you have with them?

Thank around. Do you take the time to thank your office’s cleaning staff? How about the security guard? A lot of people forget those individuals, and they shouldn’t. After all, chances are nobody would miss the chief administrative officer if he or she were absent for few days. Try that with the janitorial staff—not a pretty thought.


Award (or reward) Your Staff for a Job Well Done.

While not a leadership book per say, Human Resource Management in Local Government, offers great motivator examples for high performers. Here are several monetary rewards other than salary adjustments to consider:

  • Training opportunities. Local governments can pay for training opportunities of the employee’s choice, including workshops and classes offered through accredited universities and professional schools.
  • Extra time off. Depending on the amount of paid time off currently offered by the organization, many employees consider extra time off to be a highly desirable feature of employment.

Nonmonetary rewards include flexible work arrangements, awards such as certificates of achievement accompanied by public recognition from the supervisor, or the opportunity to provide their talent and input on special projects or in a routine decision-making setting.


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