The Power of a Grateful Leader
How would you like to go to work every day never feeling appreciated? How long would it be before you stopped trying? How long would it take for you to quit?
When employees don’t feel appreciated, their work suffers. As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that the company is successful. A successful company is made of employees who put forth their best effort every single day. Being a grateful leader is the easiest, cheapest way to make them want to do that.
According to a recent survey, 93 percent of respondents believed bosses were more likely to be successful if they were grateful. Whether you’re raising a child or motivating your employees, positive reinforcement works. Simple and sincere appreciation is the most effective form of positive reinforcement, and it’s free. Why, then, is it underutilized compared to bonuses or other perks?
Simple and sincere appreciation is the most effective form of positive reinforcement, and it’s free. Why, then, is it underutilized compared to bonuses or other perks?
Many bosses don’t express gratitude because they don’t want to be perceived as weak, but according to the same survey, only 18 percent of respondents thought expressing gratitude would make a person appear weak. Think of gratitude as an emotional investment — one with significant and immediate returns.
Why Showing Gratitude Is Important
Because your workforce is your single greatest asset, leaders are constantly looking for ways to get the most out of their employees. Leaders often look to cash rewards to keep people happy, but a compliment can work just as well. In fact, a recent study indicated that the striatum, the same part of the brain affected when receiving a cash reward, is also affected when someone is complimented.
Think of gratitude as an emotional investment — one with significant and immediate returns.
When managing their workforce, leaders are concerned with four things affecting employees, and all of these areas can be improved by showing appreciation:
- Motivation: When employees feel appreciated, they feel happier and more fulfilled, and this leads them to do better work. In a survey by Globoforce, 78 percent of respondents said that being recognized motivates them.
- Consistency: When employees feel as if their work actually makes an impact on people, they are more likely to consistently repeat good behavior. In the same survey, 69 percent of respondents said they would work harder if their efforts were recognized.
- Morale: You can amplify positivity simply by thanking or complimenting someone. Your employees will be more likely to treat others better, and morale will improve overall.
- Turnover: When employees feel valued and appreciated, they’re less likely to seek fulfillment of this emotional need elsewhere, which reduces turnover. According to a recent article in Forbes, companies that scored in the top 20 percent for building a “recognition-rich culture” saw 31 percent lower voluntary turnover.
When employees feel appreciated, they feel happier and more fulfilled, and this leads them to do better work.
How to Get the Most out of Gratitude
Expressing gratitude effectively is an art form. If done correctly, gratitude generates positive energy that benefits the employee, you, and your organization as a whole. Gratitude doesn’t have to be extravagant as long as it’s sincere. To get the most out of gratitude, you should always:
- Single people out. Although there’s a time and place for thanking your team as a whole, you shouldn’t always lump your thanks together. It may save you time, but it’s impossible to reap the full benefits of gratitude unless you single out employees to express your thanks for their individual contributions.
- Be genuine. Gratitude that isn’t genuine is worse than no gratitude at all. People can always tell when you aren’t being sincere, and your compliment will backfire.
- Be specific. General thanks such as, “We appreciate your hard work,” just won’t do the trick. Statements like this leave employees feeling like you want to say thank you, but you don’t actually know what they did for you. Instead, say something specific such as, “Thank you for your work on (blank). When you did (blank), it showed me (blank). I really appreciate it.”
- Be unexpected. It’s very common to express gratitude at the end of a project, the end of the year, or around the holidays. But to an employee, it can feel as if you are checking them off your gratitude to-do list. Spontaneous thanks mean more because they know you didn’t have to thank them or even notice their hard work, but you did, anyway.
Finally, being appreciative isn’t just about making your employees better — it’s about making you a better leader. According to John C. Maxwell, the definition of leadership is influence. Imagine yourself as one of your employees. Who has more influence on what you do: someone who cares enough to notice and appreciate what you do, or someone who doesn’t?
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