10 Simple Ways to Thank Your Team

“What I have discovered is that as I do the work of personalizing recognitions into the work of my team, I become a more empathic and involved leader in the process.” –Claire Jenkins

Thank you note

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Meet John, an ambitious project manager with excellent hard skills. He is the master of earned value and Monte Carlo. John meticulously tracks and reports contingency and management reserves. He appreciates his team but rarely expresses it.

Meet Susan. Susan has adequate hard skills, but she excels in her soft skills. People seek to be on her project teams. Why? Susan has a servant’s heart – she looks after the interest of others.

Susan provides positive and immediate feedback for special achievements. She thanks her team members in a variety of ways. Even in the face of great challenge, her teams consistently deliver great results.

It can be difficult for busy PMs to acknowledge the good work of team members. If this is to become a habit, PMs must be intentional. Watch your team members. When they do something above-and-beyond, express your gratitude.

Here are 10 (fairly inexpensive and simple) ways to thank your team members:

  1. Send a hand written thank-you note. I recently saw a Thank-You card pinned to someone’s cubicle wall. The card was dated 2008. Why would someone keep a card that long? Hand-written notes are a rare commodity in our digital age. Tangible notes may be displayed and savored.
  2. Send a thank-you photo card. Take a photo or two, create a photo card, and mail the cards to your team members.
  3. Take the team to lunch. If your project budget allows, take your team out for lunch after the completion of a major milestone or completion of the project. During lunch, share your thoughts and acknowledge each team member’s contributions. Reinforce the project’s significance to the company’s strategic vision.
  4. Send a gift card to a spouse. Send a gift card to a spouse with a thank-you note for his or her support during the project (use discretion on this one).
  5. Praise individuals one-on-one. Great leaders understand the power of the spoken word. When individuals complete significant work on time, make a point to visit them. Look the person in the eye and tell them why their work matters. Call virtual members to say thanks.
  6. Praise individuals before their peers. “I can live two months on a good compliment,” said Mark Twain. Make time in your project meetings to recognize your team members before their peers.
  7. Put a picture and article in the company newsletter. Highlight your team’s accomplishments in your company’s newsletter.
  8. Post a picture in the office. Take a picture and print a large copy for a company bulletin board. If your company has hall TV monitors, publish a picture with appropriate text.
  9. Give a gift certificate for a car wash. When team members are working overtime, things outside of work can slip. Think of one way you can help.
  10. Bake cookies. I am not the greatest cook, but I can slice cookie dough, put it on a cooking pan, and turn on the oven. If you don’t cook, try picking up cookies from a local bakery.

Some managers are afraid to reward team members for fear individuals will expect the same reward for similar tasks in the future. Reduce this pattern by rewarding team members after the fact. Vary the rewards. Make it fun. Be creative. Show your people you care.

Question: What are your favorite ways to say thank you?

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