Don’t Be a Turkey: How to Show Appreciation at Work This Thanksgiving

November 18, 2019 9:00 am Published by

Team leaders are often encouraged (“bombarded” is actually a better word) to communicate appreciation to colleagues during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Expressing thanks for a job well done is sure to be received well, right?

Not necessarily. At times, clueless managers are at risk for saying “thanks” in ways that won’t be received well. They don’t really “get” appreciation and what the big deal is – but they try anyway, and often their actions seriously miss the mark and actually wind up being offensive.

Here are some actions to avoid:

The “Who is this person impersonating our supervisor?” card.

The supervisor who is usually gruff, cold and angry sends each staff person a flowery personal card of appreciation with cheesy superlatives. Their behavior is so inconsistent, it seems like a different person is talking. The staff will assume their supervisor had their spouse pick out the card, and that the supervisor was having an out-of-body experience when they wrote them.

The “Let’s re-affirm the true meaning of Thanksgiving” with a schmaltzy gift.

Your supervisor writes a note with a gift they leave on your desk: “I think we have lost connection to the true meaning of Thanksgiving so I wanted to give you something that reminds you of its true meaning.” The gift is a set of Pilgrim figure candles.

The “Hidden agenda / Adopt my values” email.

The manager writes an email with brief thanks to staff (“Just wanted to let you know I appreciate you”) but it is followed with a long diatribe against the traditional Thanksgiving meal (“I just wanted to make sure you know that …eating meat isn’t good for you, …turkeys are mistreated, Americans are obese and need to eat less…).

The “I’m off. You’re not. Enjoy the weekend!” message.

This occurs when the owner/manager not only takes off Thanksgiving, but Wednesday, and Friday as well, but the rest of the team has to work Wednesday until 5 pm, all day Friday, and some are ‘on call’ throughout the weekend.

On their way out the door (somewhere around 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon), the manager calls out: “Have a good weekend!  Enjoy your time off!” While the clueless manager thinks he/she is pretty good for remembering to encourage their team, the team members are seething with anger and conclude: “He’s a jerk.”

Better Options

It would be wise not to show your appreciation using these ideas. But here are some suggestions for sharing appreciation appropriately with your staff, should you choose to do so.

Keep it simple:

*Tell them “Thanks for all you do” BUT be sure and give one specific example of what they do that makes your life easier and why it is important. (“Jen, thanks for being faithful to get your reports to me on time. I really appreciate it because it makes it easy for me to pull my information together and get my reports in on time, as well. Thanks!”) A global, generic thanks is meaningless. If you can’t be specific, don’t say anything.

*Stop by their workspace, ask if they have a minute to chat. Sit down, get their full attention and ask them what their plans are for the holiday. Key next step: listen to what they share. Then say: “I just wanted to stop by and let you know I hope you have an enjoyable and restful holiday. I hope you enjoy the time… (doing whatever they described).” (You may need to call 911 and the paramedics to deal with the shock they may be in.)

*If you have time, and see that they are frantically trying to finish up a task before they leave, see if there is anything you can do to help. (Be aware, their first response will probably be: “No, that’s ok, I’ve got it covered.”) Ask again, saying something like, “No, really, I have a few minutes and I’d be glad to help you get some things done so you can get out of here.” A little practical help when someone is running late can be hugely meaningful.

It doesn’t take much, but a few minutes with some focused attention on your team members can make a memorable impression on them over the holidays.



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Published by
November 18, 2019 9:00 am

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