It’s a week that we often reflect on the things for which we are grateful. Even kids at school come home with construction paper crafts with the words “family” “friends” and “books” written on them. And I’m sure that around the Thanksgiving table, albeit much much smaller this year, you will be reflecting on all that we have to be grateful for (hint: it’s a lot!). Question is: as a leader, do your employees feel the same gratitude from you?

Let’s say that you lost your best employee – they transferred to another city, took a higher-paying job, or got promoted. What would your business look like? Sure, you would recruit another team member to fill that void. It’s easy then to recognize all that that employee did for your business, both in heart and deed. Have you told them that you are grateful for everything they do for you?

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Arthur Ward


Slow down. Take some time for gratitude. When an employee does something for you, even if it is a basic part of their job description, look them in the eyes and say “thank you.” As leaders, we often are busy, overwhelmed, and stressed. Taking just a few seconds to say thank you, or “I appreciate you” will solidify the relationship that you have with your team. Make sure that your employees “feel” the gratitude. All of them. Be sure that they are thanking each other, too.

When working with a coach, one of the first things that we will often work on with clients is self-awareness. We may do a 360 degree assessment where we ask your employees what you could be doing to make it an excellent place to work and their perception of how things are going. These results are often eye-opening to the leader.

Are you thanking your team enough? Does every team member know, with certainty, that they are appreciated? Have you looked at the personality types of your team? People with different personality types need different types of appreciation, and some need more than others. Some will want to be praised privately, some publicly. Ask your team how they want to be thanked. There are several free survey programs out there that will allow you to collect this feedback simply.


There will come a time in every employer-employee relationship that there will be a need for feedback. Whether this is in-the-moment quick feedback, an annual or quarterly review, or a longer-term counseling situation, the way feedback is delivered can make or break the relationship between leaders and their team.

First step to giving feedback is to assume positive intent. Assuming positive intent is critical in every business relationship, but especially when it comes to feedback. The vast majority of employees come to work every day ready to do a great job – there’s a very rare person who intends to be mediocre every day. If you assume that your employee is inherently a good person and doing the best they can, shown in your words and actions, then your feedback will be much better received.

Second step to giving positive feedback is to use what we call the sandwich method. If you sandwich the “bad” feedback in between 2 specific statements of gratitude, then your employee walks away feeling positive. Here’s an example: “Sam, I really like the ideas that you are sharing with the group during our leadership meetings. We do need you to arrive on time to the meetings, though. That way the whole group is able to get work right away. You are a valued member of our team, and we want to make sure that all voices are heard, including yours.”


One of our clients that has been with us for over 5 years, George, keeps a gratitude journal. Every day, without fail, George writes down several things that he’s thankful for. When he is feeling down, he flips through the gratitude journal and can remember all of the great things that have happened throughout the year.

If you’re not into writing gratitude down, another technique that we love is the Gratitude Snooze. When your alarm goes off every morning, take the 5-10 minutes in between snoozes to reflect on things, people, and circumstances for which you are grateful. It sounds so simple, but if your brain is programmed to start the day with positive, no matter how bleak the rest of the day looks, your attitude of gratitude is locked in.



Do you need some strategies on how to express gratitude to your team? Our coaches are experts on helping leaders see where their leadership behaviors need some work, holding them accountable, and celebrating the success of a happy team, highly profitable business, and clients that are singing your praises. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation business assessment.

About the author,

Director of Marketing, ActionCOACH Columbus

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