Recognition & Gratitude: Underestimated Performance Tools

2 Minutes Read

The success of any leader is highly dependent on the effectiveness of their team; leadership is never a solo piece. Many leaders and managers often fail to confess this reality, not only to their team members but also to themselves. Managers have long meetings, conferences, and press briefings where leaders get to shine and represent a job well done. Often, the folks in the background are not always adequately acknowledged and appreciated for their excellent work and outstanding efforts to achieve brilliant results.

Acknowledgement and appreciation are critical principles to ensure that while leaders shine bright like a diamond, team members are not lit fuses of dynamite glowing.

Mark-Odean Grant

Otherwise, an explosion would be avoidably inevitable. Growing up, I remember hearing the older folks saying, “encouragement sweetens labour.” In the society that we live in today, some people believe money is all. However, mere acknowledgement without financial rewards can greatly boost people’s morale and performance in many circumstances. We can acknowledge our team members in many ways that we often overlook. “Good job”, “excellent work”, and “I couldn’t have done it without you” are parked comments that many persons in leadership and management don’t even care to say these days. I’ve heard these remarks said to me before, and they have only had a positive impact, and they didn’t cost a penny. Though we may take it for granted that “people get paid”, these employees must also know that their leaders realise their contribution to the team’s success. Thus, some form of acknowledgement, whether public or private, is integral.

Acknowledgement gives an excellent opportunity for critical feedback. Feedback is never a problem when there is a negative outcome. I’m sure many can attest to this fact. However, feedback is equally essential when everything went as planned or there were positive results. A habit of acknowledging our team members creates an opportunity for feedback through a more open channel. Henceforth, this results in a situation with less tension. These circumstances are critical when the need for feedback about a lousy outcome arises. Teams are more open and responsive to leaders’ feedback in a negative situation when the same approach is utilised in a favourable situation. Additionally, it is counterproductive to wait for a performance appraisal to bring up all the bad stuff. And unfortunately, even if/when the good stuff is acknowledged, it matters less to team members had it been recognised earlier.

Expressing gratitude is a gift that keeps people doing their best.

Increasingly, financial motivation is becoming a problematic fete to maintain. Businesses are downsizing, economising, or reorganising! But, that doesn’t mean that our teams should suffer from what I’d like to call: appreciation deficiency syndrome (ADS). This syndrome is where our team members measure their work to ensure that they do “just enough” or only what is required because there is no financial or emotional reward. Often, leaders settle for 100%, which seems all right, but doesn’t quite represent the best that our teams can produce. 100% is only our initial best. If humans are constantly learning, then the mark for best is continuously advancing as we improve.

We all can relate: if we wrote a paper, we considered our best to date, then rewrote it a month later—our best, in many cases, would have advanced to becoming a better best. The great effort’s lack of reinforcement occurs when folks do their best, but appreciation is not expressed. Instead, it becomes unacknowledged and even punished, I dare say. It is reasonable to expect that any advances toward a better best become stalled.

Henceforth, saying “thank you” is so refreshing to the ears of the woefully unacknowledged. After all, don’t we all love to hear those words? Expressing gratitude demonstrates good character and inspires those around us to continue doing their best in the team and attain their best. Good leaders never do all the work but inspire and influence team members to achieve whatever goals and objectives. As such, it is an excellent practice to platform our teams, acknowledging their work and letting them shine. Remember that leaders are part of a team, the ultimate team player!

We must lead by empowering team members to attain their better best and expressing appreciation for their efforts and contributions to our success.

Picture of Mark-Odean


A transformational leader on a mission to empower two million visionaries to succeed by partnering with them to build impactful careers, businesses and organizations in the Caribbean. With over a decade of experience in coaching, organizational development and change management, I help visionaries, and their teams cultivate well-being to maximize their impact.