ATTENTION: Leaders can say Thank You

In one home a parent says to their child ‘Well done! You’re really trying hard to do your homework.  Keep going, it will get easier”.  The child feels happiness.  In another home a parent tells their child “It’s easy!  Why you can’t do it?  Are you even trying?”  The child feels sadness.

One of these children will want to do their homework and keep trying to improve, whilst the other will not want to do their homework and give up.

I am sure many of us can recognise and relate to both outcomes.  The positive reinforcement in the first example will give the child confidence and understanding that is okay to struggle but if you continue you will improve.  This is helping the child to build resilience and to associate school and homework with positive emotions.  The second approach in the second example will remove confidence from the child, they will start to associate school and homework with negative emotions.

Our need for positive reinforcement never leaves us, yet many of us forget this when we move into adulthood and our working environments.  Let’s use the same example but change some of the details.

In one office, a manager says to their direct report “Well done! You’re really trying hard to reach your target.  Keep going, you will get there”.  The person feels happiness.  In another office, a manager tells their direct report “It’s easy!  Why you can’t you just do it?  Everyone else can manage it”. The direct report feels sadness.

Unfortunately, in many workplaces the second example is all to common.  A 2018 employee engagement survey of over 1200 employees in the UK conducted by One4all Rewards found that 79% of people believed that their boss or manager does not care about their happiness.

Many leaders focus on the negative or developmental aspects of people’s work, rather than the positives.  The outcomes of taking this negative approach to feedback include: low trust in the leader, lack of loyalty to the company, increased absence and increased turnover of staff.

The power of a THANK YOU

High Emotional Intelligence is essential in leaders.  The value in understanding how emotions work and how they shape people’s beliefs and actions is so powerful.

If we are aware of our own emotions and can understand the emotions of the people we work with, we will know the power of a simple THANK YOU.  These two words can produce strong emotional reactions in many people. We associate them with positivity. To receive a thank you we have done something well or a good deed.  In short it makes us feel happy and feel valued.

21% of those surveyed also stated that a simple thank you would increase moral.  Our people are telling us that two words would make them feel valued. How many times do you say them in your working day?

We must of course make sure that we are genuine with our thanks and say it at the right time in the right circumstance, otherwise we can come across as insincere or out of tune with our teams.  Below are some examples of good situations to say thank you to your staff:

  • When they stay in work after the end of their shift to finish a task. They are staying to deliver for you and the company at the loss of their own personal time.
  • Coming into work everyday on time and doing their job to the best of their ability.  Often the colleagues we forget about are the ones we need to keep our business going.
  • Working on agreed coaching actions.  They may not have been successful, but they gave it a go and care about getting better at their job.

I urge us all to try and make people we wok with feel valued every day.  If you do you will start to see increased colleague engagement, reduced levels of absence and increased performance.  These are all results that I have seen in highly engaged teams, managed by leaders who display high Emotional Intelligence.

If you would like to know more about how Emotional Intelligence can improve your leadership skills and your performance, please visit and get in touch with me for a chat.