Thanking the People on Your Team: The Only Two Rules You Need

It’s that time of year when managers begin to stress about how to thank their teams. Do I take them to lunch? Give them a day off? Send them gift cards?

Here’s the thing, when it comes to thanking your team (which we should ideally be doing all year long), there are only two rules you need to follow:

  • Make sure you do it.

Don’t worry about finding the “right” way to thank them. It could be done in-person or by email; a handwritten note or a video message; with or without a gift; in front of the entire team or privately. Certainly, consider what will be most comfortable and meaningful for the recipient, but what’s most important is that it happens.

  • Tell them WHY you appreciate them.

Which would you rather hear? “Thank you for all you contributed to our team this year” or “Thank you for your incredible mentorship of our new team members; your efforts helped them more quickly integrate into our culture and were invaluable in strengthening our effectiveness as a team.” No surprise if you chose #2. We sometimes assume that folks know why we are grateful for them, but it isn’t always the case. So be specific. Sharing those details helps team members feel seen and appreciated for their unique talents and character traits; it feels great to be noticed this way, and significantly, it contributes to feeling more engaged.

Try to think beyond what might come to mind first, such as appreciation for “working hard and hitting sales goals”, and instead try some of these:

Thank you for…

  • …always noticing when a teammate is overwhelmed and needs some support.
  • …playing the role of Devil’s Advocate to ensure the team is making thoughtful decisions.
  • …taking risks in meetings to share unconventional ideas
  • …keeping morale up when the team is under intense pressure
  • …stretching yourself in new ways to help cover our two open positions
  • …having the confidence to give me feedback when I needed it

Block off some time, make a list of your team members, and one by one, really consider what they would love to know that you’ve noticed. Guaranteed, they will thank you for it.

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