It’s that time of year again, at least in the United States: The leaves are falling, the turkey is calling, and “thanks” are in the air. With all that is happening in the workforce at the moment, it feels like the right moment to stop and thank the people who make us leaders — our teams.
Something has shifted in the global workplace over the course of the past several months as millions of workers have left their positions. The “Great Resignation” is real; the data is clear, even if the reasons are less so. This mass exodus from the workforce has opened our eyes to the notion that “good help” really is hard to find — and even harder to retain. In light of this, it feels fitting to thank those who have stuck with us, who have continued to make our strategies a reality and have been our boots on the ground. Over the past 20 months, companies have had to ask their teams to do much more with fewer resources. Employees have worked longer hours, adapted new behaviors and mindsets, and worked remotely, all while surrounded by constant uncertainty. It has not been easy, and if there is anything to learn from the “Great Resignation,” it is that these past two years have shed a new light on the importance of work. What we are hearing from many people who have chosen to resign from work is that they want to be heard and that they want their efforts, struggles, and successes to be acknowledged. What better time to acknowledge and express gratitude to our team than now during this season of giving thanks?
Behavior economist Dan Ariely conducted a study that showed that a simple nod of the head as a form of acknowledgement increases motivation in team members. However, ignoring work or ideas has nearly the same negative impact on motivation as putting your team’s work in a shredder. So what does this mean? A little can go a long way. Here are a few tips to help express your gratitude for your teams, using Insight Experience’s Strategic communication model.
Context and Content:
Painting the bigger picture for your teams and (re)articulating the strategy makes your message feel more genuine, because it shows why you are grateful. This context reminds your teams of what their hard work and sacrifices are for and how they are connected to a larger cause.
Consistency is important because it adds credibility to your message. Your message needs to reflect the realities of the teams you are speaking to, and it needs to be consistent with what you are doing in the organization. That means that if/when changes are being made that impact your teams for good or bad, address them. Your message will feel much more genuine if it’s in line with what your teams are experiencing.
Energy and Empathy:
Focus on their effort, not performance metrics. Whether your team is performing above or below expectations, this is your opportunity to address the hard work the team has expended. If they have put in long hours, sacrificed weekends, all in the face of the uncertainty of the past 20 months, let them know that you see that and how much you appreciate it. Be genuine and explicit: Pick something specific the team has done, thank them, and connect it back to the organization’s greater strategy. Show them how their work contributed to the whole enterprise.
This is the time to clearly lay out the ways in which the team can continue to contribute to the strategy and organization, rather than hold people’s feet to the fire. Remind your teams how vital their work is now and will be going forward. Again, be specific. A general, “your work is important to our success” will fall flat. Instead, show them how their work contributes now — and how it will in the future — and why it’s important for that team to do it. Framed in the right way, accountability can reinforce your team’s connection to your mission and strategy and can motivate and inspire them to deliver to the highest standards.
Communicating gratitude is not always easy, but your teams deserve it. So from our team to yours: Happy Thanksgiving. And thank you.