This article was first published on The Huffington Post.
As a leader, I always feel gracious for the opportunities I’ve had and appreciative of the people I consider myself indebted to—my family, friends, and most importantly my hardworking team at Pacesetter.
A business will run most smoothly when these feelings go both ways. You want your associates to appreciate the job they have and be grateful for the support of management and those in the C-Suite. But they won’t feel that way unless you give them cause to.
It’s the duty of effective leaders to drive gratitude and appreciation. Here are four ways you can do so.
Provide something worth appreciating
There is no way to cultivate gratitude if there is little for your team to be grateful for. Appreciation does not come without cause, and the lack of both (cause and appreciation) can be detrimental across the board.
For example, a company that provides poor benefits, no training, and few opportunities for advancement is unlikely to leave team members feeling gracious. As a result, associates will be less productive, less loyal, and less likely to stick around. So if you want to be appreciated, you’ll need to provide something worth appreciating. And no, just providing a job isn’t enough.
Recognize associates’ accomplishments
One valuable way to incite gratitude is to recognize your associates’ accomplishments, and do so in a way that makes them feel special. In many ways, this is just business 101—if a CEO is letting hard work go unnoticed and unrewarded, they are almost certainly doing something wrong.
Telling a team member they did a good job is fine, but there are ways to take recognition further. An employee of the month program, for example, will let them know they are valued and potentially award them with a prize: a plaque, a gift card, or whatever it is that works best for your company.
Make memories through gestures
Never underestimate the power of emotional impact. Little gestures to show the company is genuinely looking out for everyone. For example, at Pacesetter we provide a turkey for every associate on Thanksgiving, or else donate one in their name. This is much more effective than the money equivalent, because it’s something that creates a memory and will be enjoyed in a specific way.
Create a culture worth admiring
Tokens and rewards are just a small part of driving appreciation; you really have to embed the spirit of these gestures into the entire company culture. Providing outlets for charity, events for associates to get to know one another, incentive programs, training, group outings, and other perks create a cohesive culture that benefits both the team and the company as a whole.
Remember, you can’t just ask to be appreciated. Gratitude is not given, it’s earned. The best way to earn it is to be grateful and appreciative of your associates, and demonstrate this in tangible ways. Carry yourself this way, and let it inspire how you make decisions and handle professional interactions. Take on these qualities, and the rest will follow.