Silent Gratitude Doesn’t Do Anyone Any Good!

Silent Gratitude Doesn’t Do Anyone Any Good!

Recognizing people for their contributions is critical to valuing people in your ministry.  Everyone of us appreciates being recognized for a job well done.  So why are we so stingy about delivering thank you’s and appreciation to volunteers and teams?  Maybe we need to think through how important it is to take time to deliver thanks.  Our SDI training can also help us to connect that appreciation to a person’s motivation and make an even bigger impact.

I have enclosed the article below from Micheal Patterson of TotalSDI/Corestrengths about the importance of expressing gratitude.  I found it helpful and motivating to me to be more focused on delivering effective appreciation ( blog):

Nearly everyone wants to be recognized and rewarded for a job well done. I know I do. When I’m recognized, I feel better about myself, more connected to my colleagues, and more committed to the task at hand. Positive feedback puts a spring in my step.

My experience isn’t unique either. In fact, Maritz Research found that employees who receive recognition are:

  • 5 times for likely to feel valued
  • 7 times more likely to stay with the company
  • 6 times more likely to invest in the company
  • 11 times more likely to feel completely committed to the company

Yet, according to recognition expert, Dr. Bob Nelson, 58% of employees rarely receive as much as a “thank you” from their manager for a job well done, with 34% saying that they definitely never get any form of meaningful recognition. At the same time, Dr. Nelson reports that 80% of managers think they’re recognizing or praising employees appropriately. Clearly, there’s a big disconnect.

So how can companies bridge that gap and create a happier, more fulfilled and committed workforce? Deloitte set about the task by asking more than 16,000 professionals from 4,000 organizations around the world how they wanted to be recognized, for what, and by whom. For day-to-day activities, 85% of respondents were satisfied with a simple “thank you,” with about half of those content with it being verbal, while about a third preferred a note or letter documenting the recognition. Women, in particular, wanted written notes more than men.

For bigger projects, exceptional results, or when extra work was involved, the research showed that expectations about recognition were far more nuanced. For most people, it’s almost never just about more money; instead, it’s about feeling valued. But people value different things about themselves, which means understanding the personalities of the people involved plays a big part in recognizing them in ways they’ll find meaningful.

For example, the Deloitte findings showed that some people wanted their teammates to be recognized with them because they viewed their own accomplishments as the result of a team effort. Others wanted to be recognized by being given an even more challenging project or stretch assignment, while others were looking for visible acknowledgment in front of as many people as possible.

Another important aspect of recognition is a demand from the new majority of the labor force, Millennials, who emphasize the community aspect of their workplace, including acknowledgment from peers and team members. Ryan Jenkins, writing in Inc. magazine, says that making “recognition programs more social and peer-to-peer will win over Millennials.” Echoing this fact, Toni Vranjes, writing for SHRM’s HR Magazine, says employees value peer recognition as much—and in some cases, more—than hearing praise from their manager. While tangible results are still somewhat mixed on formalized peer-feedback programs, it’s clear that being able to give and receive feedback positively within teams is a new requirement for talent retention.

If only there was a way to understand what individuals value, what motivates them to perform so that recognition—both top-down and peer-to-peer—could be an effective use of the company’s energy, time, and money? OK, I teed that up, but there is something that can solve this problem: Relationship Intelligence.

You’ve probably noticed (or if you’re lucky enough, experienced first-hand) that high-performing teams have great relationships. Members know one another—and recognize one another—at the core. This doesn’t magically happen. They’ve done the hard work of understanding their differences and adjusting their personal approach to one another because they care about their team and its outcomes.

When this doesn’t come naturally (and let’s face it, it rarely does without some help), sharing the results of a personality assessment and learning what motivates leaders and their team members can go a long way to building a culture of recognition that works. I’ve contributed to the evolution of the Strengths Deployment Inventory, or SDI 2.0, for several years. It provides a common language for understanding what’s important to people, and it measures the way each person uniquely values three core motives. By employing a simple and memorable guide, any leader or team member can gain a window to what drives that person and how to tap into it. It’s even available as an app.

The important part is that by creating this foundational understanding among people, recognition not only becomes something that can be tailored and thus more meaningful; it can become a part of regular communication. Imagine the impact of not only meaningful but regular recognition to people’s commitment, happiness. Just imagine the spring in their step.


Dr. Mike Patterson is a principal at Core Strengths in Carlsbad, Calif. and teaches in the doctoral program at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He is also the co-author of Core Strengths: Results through Relationships training and the book, Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places (Jossey-Bass). Contact him at

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.