Just How Important Is Gratitude To Your Team?
By Jim Anderson
As an IT manager, it is your job to motivate your team to accomplish great things! The big question that you have to answer is how to use your IT manager skills to get your team to work together. You have a lot of tools at your command: raises, promotions, bonuses, etc. However, what all of our IT manager training has been designed to teach us is what works best. What’s the answer to this question?
The power of gratitude
It turns out that it’s not always easy for IT managers to express gratitude to those members of their team who work for them. It’s not necessarily that we don’t want to express gratitude, but it’s just that it’s so easy for us to forget to do it. About 80% of us understand the power of expressing gratitude to members of our team. However, only about 10% of us do it!
In surveys, workers have revealed that if the work that we are doing gets us both excited and interested in what we are doing, then we’ll give our best effort. This is especially true if we believe that the work that we are doing provides meaning and purpose and if others are appreciating the work that we are doing.
As IT managers, we are given a number of different ways to motivate the members of our team. Some of these tools are financial tools. However, it turns out that motivating team members financially can actually backfire on us. Everyone believes that they are being paid a fair salary. However, when you start to reward people for their work with financial incentives bad things can happen. These financial rewards can have the unintended effect of undermining the personal and intrinsic motivations that make us want to perform at our highest level.
How best to use gratitude
As IT leaders what we need to understand is that gratitude is probably the #1 most sustainable incentive at work. If you think about it, the raise that you got just feels like you are getting your just due. When you get a bonus, you just end up spending it. A promotion with a fancy new title just doesn’t seem all that important once you have it. However, when you know that other people appreciate you, now that will stick with you for quite a long time.
One powerful aspect of gratitude that a lot of IT managers don’t realize is that it has a very powerful “halo effect”. What this means is that when you show gratitude towards someone, they will become more motivated to help others on their team. When someone shows gratitude towards us, this in turn makes us more motivated to help others.
If we can all agree that this gratitude thing is important to show to members of our team, then now the big question becomes how best to go about showing it? The first thing that we need to realize is that when we are expressing gratitude, what we want to do is to be as specific as we possibly can be. We need to let our team member understand what we are expressing our gratitude for. When we are actually expressing our gratitude, we need to give them honest and sincere appreciation for what they have done.
What all of this means for you
As IT managers we are always looking for ways to accomplish IT team building in order to make our team work together better. Our companies provide us with a number of different ways of making this happen. It turns out that showing gratitude is the most powerful way to make this happen.
When members of your team feel appreciated, all of a sudden job satisfaction goes up. Other types of motivation don’t have the same lasting ability as gratitude. When we feel appreciated, all of sudden we become more willing to help other people. Showing gratitude to your team members will not make you appear to be a weaker boss.
The great thing about showing gratitude to your team members is that it does not cost anything to do. What matters is that you have to remember to do it. Taking the time to show gratitude to your team members for their efforts on the part of the team is a simple thing for an IT manager to do. Take the time to show each member of your team why you appreciate them being a member of the team and you’ll get an immediate benefit for your actions.
Jim Anderson has been a product manager at small start-ups as well as at some of the world’s largest IT shops. Dr. Anderson realizes that for a product to be successful, it takes an entire company working together. You can learn more about Dr. Anderson on his website, http://www.TheAccidentalPM.com. You can subscribe to his newsletter here.