A Challenge for Leaders

by  Heather Coleman-Voss  |  Leadership Development

“Despite the economic recession, more employees are looking for opportunities outside of their organization than in 2008, suggesting that 2011 will be a challenging year for retention (and a hot market for firms to attract top talent).”  Blessing White, 2011 Employee Engagement Report

What is happening? While salaries are an important component to work and life satisfaction, more often employees are disengaged from their companies because they feel disrespected and unappreciated. They are part of the ‘disengaged workforce’ – and it’s costing companies billions of dollars. As talented as the team may be, discontent has an enormous effect on retention, profit, customer satisfaction, client relations, departmental success and the company as a whole.

“49% of employees said they would leave their current job for a company that clearly recognized employees for their efforts and contributions.” Workforce Mood Tracker Survey

It is unrealistic to expect continuous enthusiasm, innovation, and the above-and-beyond attitude when people feel taken for granted, overworked and unappreciated. As in any relationship, consistently giving without positive feedback takes it toll. In the age of social media, employees have more options than ever before to be found by other companies who are willing to give what is lacking – and at the top of the list is appreciation.

Leaders are very busy people. Meetings, audits, interviewing, staffing, projects, events, budgets…the list goes on and on. As rewarding as it may be, leadership can be very exhausting. Great leaders recognize the fact that they could not do it alone. They acknowledge that their success is the direct result of the expertise of their teams; they know they are only as good as the team who supports their efforts. The question is, are they saying it? Are employees getting the message?

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”  ~G.B. Stern

Today, I challenge you to put into words your appreciation for those who make a difference in your organization. Your mission, should you accept it? Take a few seconds to simply say “thank you.” Recognize their efforts by writing it on a Post-It, sending an email, stopping by their office to tell them in person how much they are appreciated. Do not delegate this responsibility – invest in your workforce by making it personal. Take the time to send a clear message to your team members – tell them how important their work is to you and to the organization.

Have an impact. Create the change. Say “Thank you.”


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What People Are Saying

Walethia Aquil  |  28 Nov 2011  |  Reply

Heather this is a great article and so timely. Most times all people want is a thank you and recognition for their contributions. Money is not always a motivator.

Being apprenticed satisfies a deep need we all have to feel validated and wanted.

With Grace and Charm,

Heather Coleman-Voss  |  29 Nov 2011  |  Reply

I agree with you – much of the time most people do want to feel that the work they put in is appreciated. I think this can be more true for high achievers who are driven by passion and intrinsic rewards.

Thank you for your insight!

Mitch Anderson  |  28 Nov 2011  |  Reply


To me this is a common sense thing but many managers don’t understand thier role. I have been with the same company for almost 30 years and the main reason is that they depend on me to provide results on engineering projects and I love the challenge… Since my second year in I have been a go to guy. My management style reflects the need for appreciation that I enjoyed and the sincereness of honest answers regardless of whether it was what I wanted to hear.

Not all people perform at the same level and have totally different skill sets. If you can recognize this, you can pair up taskers with free thinking project idealists and create small teams that actually mentor each other. They become very dependant on the others strengths and work together to accomplish so much. Creating inclusion and telling them the goal, the resources that they have, and expectations, we build a timeline based on thier comfort level and thier skill set… If it doesn’t meet the timeline we add resources to help them meet the goal. I never tell them how to complete the goal, they tell me how they are going to achieve their goal. And yes in the end it is thier goal and achievement. They get all the credit and recognition. My recognition is having a great team that everyone sees getting the job done. I lose people to promotions, but isn’t that making the company stronger and providing new opps for promising new people? Recognition is everything…

Heather Coleman-Voss  |  29 Nov 2011  |  Reply

This is a fantastic response worthy of it’s own blog post! I love your perspective – “they get all the credit and recognition. My recognition is having a great team…” I also strongly believe in your philosophy that leaders describe expectations and the team achieves the goal. That’s showing trust in your team, empowerment and respect for their expertise.

I also love losing people to promotions. :)


Deb Costello  |  29 Nov 2011  |  Reply

I love this reminder that we all need to not only appreciate others, but actually show them this appreciation through our words and actions. There is no substitute for a kind word and a sincere thanks and the ratio of good to bad needs to be pretty high. High performers take criticism to heart far more than praise. Thank you for the reminder that we need this praise on a regular basis…. it motivates and enriches our lives and work.

Heather Coleman-Voss  |  29 Nov 2011  |  Reply

Thank you so much, Deb!

Your comment on high performers taking criticism to heart far more than praise resonated with me – I’m very much like that myself. I think many people simply want to know that they are making a difference and having a positive impact.


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