Close your eyes for a minute – no really, close your eyes – and think about the best boss you’ve ever worked for. Did this person do a great job at showing they appreciate you and your team? I would bet that he or she did.
Okay, you can open your eyes now.
Leading a team is about more than having an extra set of hands to help with the work, dishing out orders, and keeping the team on track.
It’s about building relationships based on mutual trust, respect, and rapport. And one of the best ways to do this is by showing your appreciation for all that your team does.
Did you know?
When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied, “Give recognition.” (source)
People crave recognition for a job well done. Leaders often fall into the trap of thinking that their team members only care about money. But time and time again, studies show that people want to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. And guess what? It’s not that hard to do!
Did you know?
69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. (source)
Wanna know the secret of getting your team’s best effort every day? Try thanking them for a job well done or treating them to a fun surprise. When people feel recognized and appreciated, they’re more loyal, more motivated, and will go above and beyond for you.
A little recognition can go a long way – both for your team and for the overall success of your business. If you’re not sure where to start, I’m here to lend you a hand! Today, I’m sharing 10 simple ways to show your team that you appreciate them (like, really appreciate them) without spending a cent!
1. Say “thank you” and mean it.
This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to show appreciation is often overlooked. Saying thank you – and meaning it – is a great way to show your team that you see the great work they’re doing and you’re grateful. And don’t forget the little details that will take that thank you to the next level!
2. Give a handwritten note.
Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. I still remember (and have) the handwritten card I received from a Senior Vice President at Kroger (where I worked for 11 years) thanking me for my work on a project. That card, written in his own handwriting and with specific details of why he appreciated my work, meant more to me than just about anything else he could have sent or done. Handwritten notes connect us as humans and are far more personal than a quick email fired off in the afternoon (although emails have their place, too). They take extra thought and care.
3. Shout your team out on social media.
Another super simple, quick, and free way to show your team appreciation is to shout them out on social media! A quick mention in an Instagram Story, some praise shared on your next Facebook post, or a quick tweet are all great ways to show your team some love. And, bonus – your audience will love this, too!
4. Praise them in front of the whole team.
Team meetings are a great time to show individual team members a little extra recognition. Being recognized by your boss in front of your peers is a pretty intoxicating feeling. And I guarantee they’re going to be even more jazzed to get back to work after the meeting’s over!
5. Reward a job well done with some extra free time.
Did a team member do an exceptional job on a client report? Were they able to troubleshoot a tech issue that you’ve been struggling with for a long time? Why not reward them with a little extra free time – on you! Maybe they can sleep in and start the workday a bit later. Perhaps they can take two hours for lunch instead of just one. Or how about letting them wrap up their week a bit early? What a fun way to show your team you care and boost that “work-life balance” culture you’ve been trying to implement.
6. Encourage peer praise.
Guess what? You’re not the only one who can (or should) give praise. Encourage your whole team to get in on the fun! This is an awesome way to build trust and respect between your team members – and for them to feel appreciated amongst one another. Consider setting up a “praise” list in Asana or a channel in Slack or a whiteboard in your office or breakroom where team members can leave a little love for their coworkers. Watch your team flourish as they recognize one another for that extra bit of help or for a job well done!
7. Implement a team trophy (physical or virtual).
This one may seem a bit cheesy at first but hang with me for a sec. Choose an item, any item – a series of 10 unicorn emojis placed by your team member’s name, a large foam wedge of cheese for their desk, or a dancing GIF that’s been tagged to a team member in Asana, etc. – to represent greatness in your company. Every Monday, award the “trophy” to the team member who went above and beyond the previous week. Your team will definitely give you the side eye in the beginning, but there’s something magical about a big wedge of cheese being on your desk that will change your team’s mind – and they’ll all be wondering where it will land next!
8. Highlight team members in your weekly newsletter.
Another great way to shout out your team members and give them a little public praise is to share about them in your weekly newsletter. You’ll not only make your team feel great, but your clients will love hearing about how awesome your whole team is and will be even more excited to work with you.
9. Provide opportunities to learn or do different things.
I know what you might be thinking here: “You want me to reward great work with more work?! Doesn’t that seem a little crazy?” Yes and no, respectively. Yes, I want you to give your team members opportunities to learn, try, and do new things because they’ve done an exceptional job for you. This will help destroy any silos that might be building up in your business, will give you a fresh perspective in different areas, and will keep your team members excited, learning, and growing. If you don’t have many opportunities for people to move up in their careers with you, this is a great way to continue challenging and rewarding them, while also avoiding boredom and burnout.
10. Talk to your team members about their big dreams and goals.
How often do you sit down with your team members and talk to them about their big dreams and goals for their lives and careers? I’ll bet the answer is probably, “Not often enough.” This shouldn’t be saved for a once-a-year performance conversation. These types of conversations should be taking place all year long. Goals change as people grow and learn new things about themselves and their opportunities. Take some time to grab a coffee (in person or virtually) with your team members and give them the floor to talk about their dreams – it’s a wonderful way to show them you care and are invested in their futures.
No matter how big or small your team is, or whether they work with you in-person or virtually, you can take a few minutes each week to implement some recognition into your culture.
I challenge you to commit to implementing one idea from the list above (or another idea you might have come up with while reading this post) with your team this week. Don’t overthink this – just choose what feels good to you and then make it happen.