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Do You Question Your Team’s Gratitude? (#73)

The Confident Leader

Leaders spend hours laboring over salary increases and bonuses in preparation for the end of year reviews for their team. How did the compensation news land with their employees this season?

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
— William Arthur Ward (Educator and Author)

This Week’s Edition

Is employee gratitude a thing of the past? How does a leader know that their efforts on behalf of their employees is appreciated? 

Clarify Your Thinking

A CEO shared with me the generous bonuses he provided this year despite the negative impacts of COVID on the business and the ever-present challenges associated with the work from home culture. 

He offered the following, “at first, I was excited to distribute the bonuses. The team worked hard. We ended our year slightly up. I love sharing the success.” 

“How did the team receive it?” I asked.

“Pretty well, I guess,” he said.

“You guess?”

“Well, I’m not sure. A couple of people said, ‘thank you,’ but the rest didn’t. I don’t do it for the ‘thank you’ but some sort of acknowledgement would be nice.” 

Is it unreasonable for leaders to expect a ‘thank you’ for the efforts they undertake on behalf of their employees? From the employee’s perspective it could be argued, “I earned the bonus (salary increase or other item bestowed by the leader). Why do I have to say, ‘thank you’ for something I deserve?” Great question. Let’s explore.

For example, around the holidays, it is customary to say, “thank you,” when someone gives you something. The explicit recognition shows respect and gratitude. When we don’t say, “thank you,” it leaves the giver questioning, “did they like it? Are they grateful?”

Leaders are equally susceptible to asking these types of questions in the face of silence from an employee, “why did they not say thank you? Did they just expect it? Do they appreciate it?”

This line of thinking may prove a bit dangerous. It may cause leaders to jump to some faulty conclusions: 

  • Are the looking for another job? (Lack of commitment.)

  • They seem so entitled. (Lack of gratitude.)

  • Maybe they aren’t the right person for the team! (Lack of fit.)

Sweeping generalizations in the face of silence may lead incorrect assumptions which is leadership thinking that is not ideal for building strong relationships suggestive of a high performing team. 

New Thinking: I’m going to stop assuming. I am going to ask myself, “what else could be true? Their silence may mean something else.”


Thoughts Lead to Actions

Instead of questioning your employees’ commitment, gratitude, or place on the team, do something. Take action.

Step 1: For the employees who may not have responded, simply ask for feedback. “What feedback do you have for me around the review process and your bonus/salary increase?” 

If the lack of a “thank you” has you questioning the employee, just ask. If something is amiss, you want to know it now instead of finding out in February when they turn in their resignation.

Step 2: Institute a culture of gratitude by saying, “thank you.” You go first. Say it early, often and in a contextually relevant way. A simple “thank you” will provide continuous feedback – an ongoing dialogue that decreases uncertainty and affirms personal development. 

It will show them that you are aware of their contribution and grateful. Appreciation begets appreciation.  

Boost Your Performance

As we wrap up another year, it is my turn to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who spends their precious leadership time reading this newsletter, watching the videos, sharing it with others and providing feedback to us. My goal is for your time invested to generate a return as we support you each week to take your leadership to the next level. Here’s to a joyful and prosperous new year. Happy New Year!

What’s Your Opinion?

What’s the best thank you that you ever received. Share it with me at:

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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