Little actions can make a big difference over time. Practicing regular gratitude and team recognition is one of those seemingly small habits that will strengthen your team and pay big returns in the long run.
Personal connection was important pre-pandemic, and it has become even more important in this new hybrid world. So much is changing, and there are more physical barriers between us. Your team members are craving to be seen and appreciated. They want to be connected to the work that they are doing and the team that they are leading and/or supporting.
We recently shared the Inc.com story “Everyone Needs to Hear These 10 Words From Jason Sudeikis’s ‘Ted Lasso’ Emmy Acceptance Speech” with our social media followers. In the article, author Jason Aten shares:
Winning Best Actor in a Comedy Series, Jason Sudeikis, who plays Ted Lasso, gave a heartfelt acceptance speech that everyone should watch. “This show is about family. This show is about mentors and teachers. This show is about teammates. And I wouldn’t be here without those three things in my life,” Sudeikis said before turning to the creative team behind the show. “I’m only as good as you guys make me look.”
We can also relate to the idea that we’re all better with a team. We’re all capable of doing more with the right people beside and behind us. That’s an important recognition for every leader because it can be easy to forget and think it’s all about you. It isn’t.
The lesson is this: As a leader, you’ll often find yourself on big stages. That’s the nature of the job. You’ll often find yourself accepting attention and acknowledgments for your work, and when you do, the best thing you can do is to share the stage.
Jason hits on that key value of “sharing the stage” and giving credit to our team. We may not find ourselves onstage receiving an award, but we can still share positive recognition with our team. Expressing gratitude is a key component to maintaining team morale. Gratitude is all about emotions and feelings. We can “feel grateful,” but that doesn’t mean that we express it. Leaders need to put gratitude into action so that others feel thankful, too.
No one wants to be on a team that is always in trouble, or isn’t doing enough, or didn’t do it the right way. We want to be on the team where we all contribute and we’re all seen—even if we’re technically working in the background. Expressing gratitude helps build connection and belonging for our team members, and makes us want to perform better.
We often find it easy to express gratitude for friends and family, but what should that look like in the workplace? Here are some practical ideas:
- Acknowledge a team member during a meeting for something they did to help support a project or an individual.
- Highlight a coworker who lives out the values of the team or organization.
- Write a thank-you note or email to a colleague who put in extra hours on a project.
- Pick up the phone to say “thank-you” to someone who came up with an innovative idea.
When “sharing the stage,” it’s important to recognize that not everyone is comfortable being on stage. Consider whether your coworker would most appreciate public recognition or a quiet, personal thank-you. Both forms of gratitude are valuable.
If you are a leader who reports up to senior executives, you should always prepare an opportunity to showcase your team. Walk into a meeting with senior leadership prepared to talk about what the team accomplished and why they need ongoing support. You don’t need a large, expensive employee recognition program. Instead, simply be able to acknowledge what someone else has delivered that benefitted you or others.
There are other ways to make gratitude a habit, too. Consider investing in a “gratitude journal,” or just grab a notepad and create your own. Every day or every week, set aside time to record things you are grateful for. Set a calendar reminder to consider what your team accomplished recently and who was responsible for major wins and write these in your gratitude journal.
As you take steps to share the stage, start small. Who can you thank today?
Interested in learning more practical leadership skills? Get in touch with our team or explore our leadership programs that are designed to equip current and future leaders.