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A “Thank You” Works Wonders on Veterans Day – And Every Day

Recognition is a core part of employee engagement, and the simplest yet most effective form of recognition remains “thank you” when tasks get done and goals are accomplished.

This powerful simplicity is reflected in the heartfelt appreciation we and many nations express to our military veterans on Veterans Day. They deserve it, and in 21st-Century America we make sure they get it.

Even better, most of us have gotten in the habit of saying thank you to veterans on multiple occasions rather than just once a year, and have rightly held them up to esteem as an embedded part of our culture, whether or not people agree on the politics of war and conflict around the world.

There are two a big lesson and business leader can take from the example of “veteran appreciation”:

Appreciation is an every-day, core leadership behavior: A paycheck is not a “thank you.” A good annual performance review is barely sufficient. A handshake, a look in the eye and a “great job on that” is appreciation. An extra day off is. So is a chance to do new work directly with senior management, or finding money in the budget to take a special training class.

Never cast blame on “the messenger”: Just as soldiers, sailors and airmen follow officers’ orders, so your employees follow yours. If you ask them to pursue a flawed strategy, your results will be poor no matter how hard they work. Be accountable as a leader for the path which you choose for your troops, and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work even in the face of disappointment.

Listen to the ranks, wherein wisdom lies: American military units are given a certain amount of operational freedom when in battle, which is a key reason U.S. armed forces outperform their opposition day-to-day. Translating that to your corporate environment: Front-line employees know stuff, and if you give them encouragement and reward for sharing the truth that they see and experience every day, you will make better business decisions. Plus, if you empower them to make certain day-to-day decisions to solve customer problems quickly, research shows that customer and employee satisfaction grows.

We are happy to report our clients understand and act on these lessons. Let us know if you have experienced similar engagement and leadership connections between military and corporate life.

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