Reuniting Your Corporate Family®, Part III

Reuniting Your Corporate Family®, Part III

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Desmond Tutu

We’d like to begin this final blog in our series about reuniting your Corporate Family® with a question:  What do people in your organization need in order to feel appreciated and motivated?  Would getting a better office space do it? How about a bigger bonus this year?  Instead of a bonus, do they want an improved benefit package? What about a car allowance, or perhaps more time off?

Surprisingly, your team members may not be interested in any of these tangible items in order to feel excited about their work or energized by your attempts to appreciate them. In fact, Dr. Gerald Graham, professor emeritus at Wichita State University, conducted a pivotal study that listed 65 different workplace incentives for employees.  His findings revealed that “four of the five top motivators (are) relatively simple: personal praise (ranked No. 1), written thanks (No. 2), public praise (No. 4) and morale-building meetings (No. 5).”  In his 2019 article “What Employers Must Do to Motivate Employees,” author Bob Nelson not only cites Graham’s study but also explains his own research findings: “personal praise and thanks is the No. 1 motivator reported by employees, 99+ percent of who say it’s important for them to be thanked by their manager when they’ve done a good job” (

Does this seem too good to be true?  Could motivating your employees, even in a post-pandemic environment, be as easy as giving public praise, writing notes of appreciation, and providing inspirational team meetings? Evidence from numerous sources, including those from LEADon’s® work with national and international organizations, supports the concept that team members prefer simpler, often intangible, methods of appreciation—or as Desmond Tutu reminds us, those “little bits of good put together” that have the biggest impact.

At LEADon®, we explain these “little bits of good put together” as the fundamental elements that comprise a Corporate Family’s® Culture of Appreciation . In our book, The LEADing Edge: 9 Strategies for Internal and International Leadership (Wilke & Wilke, 2019), we examine three essential “C’s” that you and your leadership team should employ in order to develop your own effective Culture of Appreciation:

  • All praise, whether written or verbal, should be concrete and specific to the person/team you’re commending.  For example, “Reese, you did an amazing job meeting the deadline for the Frontline Project, exceeding the client’s expectations” is far better than “Great job on your last project, Reese.”


  • Appreciation should be given based upon a character quality or competency.  For instance, “Keisha, the respectful way you interact with customers and fellow team members is commendable.  What a great example for all of us in our organization” specifically addresses a positive quality that should be acknowledged.


  • Every act of appreciation must be regular and consistent. In other words, motivation and appreciation should become patterned behavior that is allocated to everyone on your organizational chart.  In The LEADing Edge we put it this way: “You can’t give more to the executive team than you do the rest of the staff.  You shouldn’t simply praise those who are making things possible for you right now; look for good things to say about others that may spur them on to greater effort” (p. 136).

Notice that most of the top motivators discussed above are neither expensive nor time intensive.  They will not show up on your P & L, nor will they impact your calendar. This is terrific news for leaders who are trying to reconnect team members in a post-pandemic environment where budgets are tighter and workloads heavier than ever. Actually, as many exceptional leaders have discovered, developing a Culture of Appreciation is always beneficial for productivity and overall profitability.  In his October 2020 Forbes post, Tom Griffin reveals the simple reason for this:  “your employees are your most valuable assets . . .  it’s your duty to make your employees feel valued” (read more of “How to Create a Culture of Appreciation in Your Team” at

Griffin also reminds leaders that small, tangible means of appreciation can be positive motivators, but he encourages leaders to be sure these are personalized to the individuals/teams involved:  “Bonuses and gift vouchers are common ways of rewarding employees in many companies. For example, you can give them a restaurant voucher where they can dine with their loved ones … (or) a custom-made gift designed specifically for them can be a great way to make them feel valued and unique.” Again, these tokens of appreciation don’t have to be costly but instead should reflect the care and consideration you have for members of your professional family. And, according to Griffin, the return on such investments tend to pay of exponentially:   “Regularly celebrating big and small achievements in the workspace can breathe life into your organization. This helps create a sense of motivation while also reinforcing positive behavior and outcomes from your employees.”

If you’re interested in more strategies for showing appreciation to your members of your Corporate Family®, LEADon® recommends taking our online course, LEADing with a Culture of Appreciation® (you’ll find this and over thirty other online leadership courses at In addition, we have an entire chapter of our book Corporate Family Matters: Creating and Developing Organizational Dynasties® dedicated to discovering ways to celebrate individuals and teams in your personal and professional families.

We hope all of our “Reuniting Your Corporate Family®” blogs have been helpful to you and your leadership team.  Please feel free to utilize them and other free LEADon® resources as you work with your Corporate Family® members in the days ahead.  If you’d like further information about LEADon’s® leadership programs, or if we can answer any specific questions, please contact us at 858.592.0700 or