Simple Ways to Be a Thankful Leader

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Be a Thanks-Giver

"It seems that the end of each calendar year comes faster and goes by quicker year after year. As leaders, it sometimes feels impossible to fit it all in. From budgets to sales quotas to holiday parties – there is a lot that we cram in from November to December!

The Thanksgiving season is also an opportunity for leaders to pause and self-reflect on where they have come and where they are hoping to go. As you take this time, I encourage you to challenge yourself. Ask yourself if you are giving as much thanks to your employees as they need and do you have the right policies in place to help attract and retain the talent you need.

Challenge yourself to be a constant “thanks-giver” in every interaction you have. The majority of your team members are burned out, working extra hours, and overwhelmed by the constant negativity on the news and on social media.

While it is the world we live in today, I believe as leaders, we can be part of changing this for our people! Your organization can be a safe place. Your organization can be a place where the individual feels appreciated and valued. Your organization can be a change agent in making the world a better place, one person at a time. Our research proves that thankful leadership matters to people.

Grateful Leaders Matter to Top Performers

In the spring of 2021, ERC surveyed over 10,000 individuals identified as “top performers” by their organizations as a part of our NorthCoast 99 application process. The leaders of these 99 winning organizations are doing things right. Specifically, their organizations were given a ranking of 5+ out of the possible 6-point agreement scale on the following two statements:

  • This organization’s leadership is concerned about my well-being. 
  • I am recognized or praised when I do a good job. 

These two statements don’t cost anything. You don’t need to budget extra funds to accomplish this. You do need to decide though if you are the type of leader who wants to make this a priority and a constant. Once you do, you will likely see turnover reduce and morale improve. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas for when to thank your people.

Ideas for When to Thank Your People:

  • They recommended a friend to your workplace. Even if the person isn’t hired, take time to appreciate the gesture as it shows that your current employee believes in your company.
  • If an idea is generated that saves the company and your employees either time or money, be sure this person is recognized for thinking holistically about the success of the organization.
  • Don’t save excellent performance comments for a quarterly or yearly conversation. Thank the individual in the moment for their great work.

In addition to the above, great leaders have great policies and practices in place. Below are just a few to help get you started.

Prioritize Policies & Implement Best Practices

  • An updated handbook that is shared and understood by all. (Stop pushing this project down the road. Make it a priority. For hundreds of reasons, including employee morale, this needs to be done.)
  • A written compensation philosophy that identifies your organization's pay and reward strategies and creates a framework for consistency. This will help you attract new people, increase retention, and boost morale and productivity.
  • Be sure your diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and philosophies are well understood by leadership and shared with all employees. This is a must. It is also a must that everyone at the company follows these policies and philosophies. 

I realize there may be some work to be done on these ideas. Understand though that once these have been discussed, written, shared and implemented, life will get easier. You should feel better about leading an organization that not only has a culture of thanking people for a job well done, but also has policies and procedures that ensure consistency for all.

On behalf of all of us at ERC, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and hope it is filled with gratitude and continued success, and THANK YOU for your support of ERC!" 

- Kelly Keefe, President 

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