Gratitude from the top

Most every company has high achievers who consistently finish first, second or third, coming up with a big win. Like in a horse race, these winning types get recognition and make it to the payout window, receiving accolades, raises and bonuses.

In business, stars aren’t born. Instead, they’re made. They reach the top through hard work, focus and an unrelenting desire to win. However, they almost always get some help from mentors who provide guidance and encouragement.

The reality, however, is successful companies only need a limited number of superstars. The real work that results in breaking a sweat is done by those who keep trying until they get it right. This middle-management group is the real lifeblood of an organization, as they do the heavy lifting day in and day out.

Every company also has a group of associates who seem never to give up but are seldom identified publicly to the entire company. Leadership must find ways to recognize those who grind it out to make it happen. Usually, this occurs with little or no hoopla. These unsung everyday contributors come in day after day and do it repeatedly.

Many times, it’s not just the money that motivates employees. The catalyst for extra effort is being appreciated and recognized. Every employee wants to feel that their efforts are not taken for granted.

Recognition, in many cases, is abstract. Some people want to be in the spotlight occasionally. In contrast, others want their boss or bosses to acknowledge them, tell them they are an essential part of the team and are not being glossed over. This is easily achieved by leadership taking a little extra time to go out of their way to say thank you. On special occasions, a brief note or a memorandum to the entire team can point out, by name, the people playing a vital behind-the-scenes role in the organization. A personal surprise that-a-boy or that-a-girl can work wonders in motivating and encouraging success.

Many times in my companies, I would be told about someone working in the shadows of a top performer whose constant efforts produced solid results. My way of giving this lower-level personnel a bit of unexpected glory was to bring them to my office. They would arrive with a hint of perspiration on their brow and move hesitantly as they entered my office. Then, as I rose from behind my desk to greet them with an overt grateful handshake, their consternation turned to joy. They smiled broadly as I told them I just wanted to deliver a personal “thank you” for what they did for the company.

These non-fungible awards of recognition became legends in the company. Frequently, I heard through the grapevine that the recipient would tell colleagues that they finally got the brass ring.

This recognition didn’t cost anything and took little time. However, these little dedicated events became a big morale builder in the organization that seemed to go further than merely giving money. Of course, people must be paid well for what they accomplish. There are, however, other meaningful prizes that employees covet besides winning, placing or showing. And that’s gratitude from the top. ●

Visit Michael Feuer’s website to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”

Michael Feuer