How to Appreciate Your Team for Their Work

Appreciation matters so much. It drives people to do their best.

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash


When was the last time you appreciated someone at work? It’s less common than one would think. You may take a lot of things for granted.

Appreciation makes people feel good about what they do. They feel valued. It helps them to be mentally healthy and safe at work.

Praises have many forms. What works for one does not have to work for others. So, you have work to do. But this one is truly pleasant.

“Appreciation goes a long way — it is one of the many factors that keep me motivated and focused in my job.” — an operations manager, Tonia Marston


Why does appreciation matter?

Data is daunting:

Appreciation matters. It makes the difference between people leaving or staying. You, yourself, want to be recognized for the contributions you make.

Managing people is not enough. You give them directions, support their aspirations, and positive words. Great leaders appreciate their teams and their work.

It is all interconnected. So, you should not underestimate that. Praises and recognition lead to higher engagement. Higher engagement to productivity and lower attrition.

But it is sometimes difficult to appreciate others. You may take good performance as “normal”. I also met managers who were uncomfortable when praising someone.

Practice appreciation by starting with yourself

Have you heard about imposter syndrome? You may have trouble appreciating yourself. That can be a reason why you find it difficult to appreciate other people.

Can you praise yourself? Take a little moment every day and tell yourself what makes you proud. I know, it may sound silly. But it can help you to find a balance in appreciating others.

You notice your qualities and become more sensitive toward your team’s efforts and performance. It will guide you well.

Foster a sense of gratitude at work.

Be happy you have your team, work, or clients. Find little things you appreciate about the job and about how you are doing them. Be proud of yourself.

Build a fair system

One of the biggest problems with recognizing a good job is that it is not often fair. Managers tend to appreciate only some people for only some jobs. And others? No chance.

People want to be treated fairly. So, if you praise your friend, every team meeting, the rest of the team will feel miserable.

It is tricky. But you can work it out.

What worked for me when I managed my team was to make a system. You possibly can’t be everywhere. Yet, you can be diligent in collecting feedback, client/supplier appreciation, analyzing timesheets, in making notes from team meetings.

Understanding performance and attitude are key.

You should not appreciate anyone until you understand how they work and what motivates them. Many people don’t work for public recognition at all-staff meetings. They are happy if you give them praise in private.

Either way, you should have a system that helps you to make sure you appreciate your team somewhat regularly.

Understand how your team wants to be appreciated

I hate appreciating emails. Why? Many managers just take a template, put in a different name, and send it. The job is done.

Nah.

Recognition can’t be templated. It’s unique to each person. Talk to them and find a way that works for them. They might want to celebrate as a group. They prefer a private handshake. Play a bit of Sherlock Holmes and understand what they find motivating.

The worst you can do is to build a generic system like a wall of fame and put your team members there every month, as other managers do so too.

The point of value is then lost. Such appreciation loses credibility and has a demotivating effect.

Be creative. Appreciation has so many different forms.

A few examples:

  • Give them badges

  • Organize lunch or dinner paid for by the company

  • Go public on social media

  • Have awards

  • Give them extra time off

  • Give away gift cards

  • Let them bring their pets to work

  • Set up a company kindergarten

  • Sponsor their ideas and projects

Say a Good job and Thank you!

We often fail in giving compliments — in both private and professional life. Yet, simple praise can make someone’s day.

It doesn’t cost anything to say a Good job and Thank you.

You don’t need any templates to be kind and say thank you to your team. If you mean it, you find the words.

I have seen many articles giving you inspiration for saying a good job. But don’t take them too seriously. Some are weird and formal like these example compliments:

  • “Your work ethic speaks for itself.”

  • “You have an extremely healthy perspective.”

  • “Wow! Just when I thought your work couldn’t get any better!”

  • “Thank you for setting a great example for your coworkers.”


Would you be genuinely happy if your manager gave you such praise? I would find it a bit artificial. So, learning here is to say simple things that you mean. Don’t overcomplicate it. As long as you honestly believe in what you are saying, other people will feel happy about it.

One thank-you can pay off more than a monetary reward. Money does not always motivate people.

So what now?

Go and appreciate others!

Think about what you appreciate about each team member or colleague. What is it? Find out what you can do for them to feel safe and good at work. Listen to them.

At first, you may find it weird to recognize others. But aim to build a culture that respects people and drives support. Such a culture is not artificial and has no ‘have-to-do’ appreciation; it will come automatically.

Appreciation drives people to do their best.


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