motivating employees

By Andy Bailey

In a recent blog post, I mentioned that the only thing your company has that your competition doesn’t is your team. I firmly believe this.

And to keep your team members a competitive advantage for your business, you have to show them just how much you appreciate them.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, lack of appreciation is the number one reason employees leave their jobs. It’s not benefits, bonus structure or salary. Your team needs to feel their hard work is recognized and valued.

Giving appropriate positive feedback is a skill most business owners should exercise far more often than they do. Luckily, with the right team in place, the opportunity is almost always available. So the next time a team member does something good, tell him or her how much you appreciate it.

When offering praise, be specific, be genuine and deliver it in context and in person.

  1. Be specific. By giving employees specific and measured appreciation, there’s no room for confusion. Catch people doing exemplary work and acknowledge their efforts. Like I said, it will increase their work efforts and the likelihood of repeat behavior.
  2. Be genuine. Appreciation cannot be contrived and you should never reward mediocrity. This will devalue appreciation and make your attempts worthless. If you want to be effective, you can’t be fake. You have to mean what you say for it to mean anything at all.
  3. Deliver in context and in person. Recognition is most effective when it’s given in the context of a larger goal. Instead of sending an email that reads, “Good job today, Tim,” go to Tim’s office, look him in the eye and say, “Hey, Tim, I really appreciate all of the thought you put into that report. It really enhanced the presentation and made the difference in us closing the deal.” Believe me, Tim will not only continue to produce high quality reports, he will escalate his all-around productivity.

I’m often asked if it’s possible to over-appreciate. My answer is no. Think about it. The last time someone told you that you were good at something, did you stop doing it? No. You continued the behavior and even focused on additional improvement. No human being can give or receive enough appreciation—period.

Many of the business leaders I coach have taken employee appreciation to the next level. They’ve set quarterly or monthly celebrations to award employees for their efforts and show their appreciation. These are the business owners who recognize the strength and importance of their team.

Do you go the extra mile to show employee appreciation? Share your ideas and suggestions below.

Andy Bailey built and sold a multimillion-dollar business and is now lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and president of Nashville’s EO chapter. Reach him at