'Tis the season to show your team gratitude! There is a ridiculous amount of value in showing value, but we just don’t seem to do it enough. There are countless ways to let your team know that you see their hard work and appreciate it, but I bet you didn’t know there are several ways for gratitude to go wrong. Yup, you can screw up gratitude, and here’s how…


People can smell disingenuousness a mile away.

As management makes efforts toward showing more gratitude, they can sometimes forget to hide the effort part. When a leader decides to walk the floor and thank everyone on Mondays at 3 o’clock, people will catch on.

While creating a culture of gratitude in the workplace takes a conscious effort, it’s not something that can simply be built into the schedule. When you show gratitude or give thanks, be sure it’s genuine.

Don’t dilute gratitude with overcompensation.

When someone has earned recognition, don’t dilute it by giving everyone a golden star. Recognition is meant to be a motivator, when it is given out too freely, it starts to be meaningless. That’s not to say that leaders should be stingy with their gratitude, but rather that it be delivered with meaning.

When a manager who is historically not been one to dole out gratitude starts thanking everyone in their path, it really isn’t going to do much in the long run. There will be an immediate, yet short-lived burst of motivation.

The Crap Sandwich

Pardon our language, but we probably don’t have too many grad schoolers reading B2B recruitment-focused content marketing, we should be safe. This is the technique in which management will say one positive thing, followed by a criticism, followed by another positive note. Why spoil the moment like that?! When you’re giving out “atta boys”, leave the negative out of it. Let employees have their moment, and address shortcomings in performance at a different time.

Don’t give praise with a hidden agenda.

While it’s true that motivation and engagement are a huge part of why we show our team gratitude, it shouldn’t be carrot on a stick. If what you really want is for someone to stay late, don’t use praise as an incentive. This tactic turns praise into a negative thing. When employees start to equate praise with extra work, you’re doing it wrong.

Stay on top of it.

When management is a week late on recognizing a job well done, they’re too late to be effective. That heart has already hardened and the resentment has set in. Better late than never is simply not good enough. Keep track of your team’s performance and be timely with your feedback. The inner-dialogue of an undervalued worker can be a very ugly thing.

It’s no secret that neglecting to show your team gratitude will lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction at work; two things that truly affect everything, including the bottom line. When creating a culture of gratitude, consider that there are right and wrong ways to do just about everything. Above all, be genuine with your efforts.

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