Providing recognition. Showing appreciation. Conveying thanks. Do we, as managers, team members, co-workers, do this often enough? Probably not.

One of the most potent tools is also the most under-utilized: SHOWING APPRECIATION.

Having worked with thousands of managers and frontline employees over the years in workshops and coaching, I have learned there are three common assumptions in this area.

Assumption #1: Isn’t it about money?

Too frequently, we assume people are motivated primarily by money, job security, benefits, and promotions. While we should never minimize the importance of those factors on morale and job satisfaction, the key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Even though they are significant factors – how much control do I really have over wages, job security, and promotional opportunities anyway?
    (Probably not much in the scheme of things.)
  • How long-lasting is the motivational impact of those factors on a day-to-day basis? (Even though there is initial impact, the “warm fuzzy feeling” often wears off pretty quickly.)

Assumption #2: Isn’t it already obvious?

Too frequently, we assume employees and co-workers already know we appreciate what they do. They get a paycheck, don’t they? Be careful to avoid the trap of thinking it’s enough. People need to receive recognition in ways beyond the impersonal paycheck. You might be surprised to learn how many people are starving for a little positive feedback about their work.

Assumption #3: Isn’t it time-consuming / expensive / elaborate?

Too frequently, we assume that providing recognition is expensive and time-consuming. Not so! It is often the little things that have the most impact. Here are ten easy, inexpensive ways – in-person or virtual – to get started.  For the greatest impact, make sure you include specifics about what you appreciate and, even better, include the positive outcome or result:

  • Email or text 
  • Voicemail message
  • Words of thanks on a post-it note
  • Inexpensive gift card: coffee/tea, iTunes, car wash, office supply like Staples, food delivery like Door Dash, transportation like Uber, Apple, iTunes/Google Play, Amazon, Walmart, Netflix, eBay, Etsy, The Home Depot, Kindle/Audible book, local lunch spot, etc.
  • Favorite food item: bagel, pizza, coffee, candy bar, soft drink, snack food, etc.
  • Mail a handwritten card or thank you note
  • Share credit for an accomplishment – highlight individual contribution to a group effort
  • Ask for their opinion or input
  • Reasonably priced gift: scented hand sanitizer, mug, beverage koozie, sport water bottle, candle, plant, desk accessory, mouse pad, etc.
  • Take someone with you on a coffee break to chat about how they’ve made a difference

Are you using this powerful tool often enough? Challenge yourself to let people regularly know that you appreciate what they do. Customize the method to the person, and be sure to change things up and vary what you do. Find ways to help others see how their work makes a difference. You’ll be amazed at the results.

If you don’t show appreciation to those who deserve it, they’ll learn to stop doing the things you appreciate.