What, How & Who to Share Your Gratitude

What, How & Who to Share Your Gratitude image DATE: November 24, 2020

When you share your gratitude with someone, you strengthen the connection with them. When leaders connect with employees, the deeper connection leads to more trust, respect, and loyalty to one another. The key to sharing your gratitude with your people is simple — be sincere and be specific. Here’s the what, how & who when it comes to sharing your gratitude.

Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions

What’s not to love about a long autumn weekend like Thanksgiving? I’m always down for another round of sweet potato casserole or repeat viewing of the Macy’s parade. 

But my all-time favorite tradition this time of year is going around the room and everyone in our huge family sharing one thing they’re thankful for!

It’s a momentary pause — in the middle of all the chaos — to not only remember what (and who) is most important — but to make sure those around us know it.

Best 2020 Thanksgiving Recipe

2020 is a year unlike any we have experienced. And while we’re all feeling battered from the COVID19 struggle, the best Thanksgiving “recipe” may be trying a generous portion of reflection and gratitude! 

Going with my favorite tradition of sharing our thanks with the people around us, we’ll go first!

Here at Van Hooser Associates, this Thanksgiving season we are deeply thankful for all the organizations that have boldly pivoted in 2020 and trusted us to do the same. We so appreciate the leaders we work with who understand the value of and commit to investing in the success of their people — most especially during hard times. 

Our hearts go out to each of you who have chosen to show a more vulnerable side of yourself and humbly serve others at a greater level in 2020. Because we’ve come together as human beings, not just leaders and employees, during one of the most challenging seasons of our generation, that we can all stand stronger together as partners, teammates, and entire organizations.

We are humbled that you continue to trust us to help you connect teams, improve communication, elevate performance, and transform the culture within your organization. Our heart is to see you succeed and we’re so thankful that we can help you do just that. We’re looking forward to all the good work we will do together in 2021!

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As always, we want to provide you with practical ideas to be more successful. This Thanksgiving season is no different. Here are some simple, sincere ways you can show gratitude to your people… and the what and how to do it well…

What, How & Who to Share Your Gratitude

When you share your gratitude with someone, you strengthen the connection with them. When leaders connect with employees, the deeper connection leads to more trust, respect, and loyalty to one another. The key to sharing your gratitude with your people is simple — be sincere and be specific. Here’s the what, how & who when it comes to sharing your gratitude.

What…

Be specific. 

Leaders often make blanket statements to the people. Statements such as “thank you for your hard work, service, performance” are all well and good. But those words probably aren’t very meaningful or memorable. In fact, your people may find them cliche`. And the impact of your effort may not be as you hoped. 

Instead, be very specific about the reason you’re thankful for them. When you do that, your words may hang around in their hearts for decades. 

Here’s an example. Instead of saying “thank you for all you do,” try saying “thank you for being a shining example of resilience in a time where I know you are juggling so much. With virtual schooling your kids, taking care of your mom, and still showing up here with a positive attitude that lifts the entire team — we’re better because of you.”
Feel like you don’t know something specific about your employees, here are 5 questions to help you get to know your team.

How…

Have a one-on-one conversation.

Making time for a one-on-one conversation with each person you’re going to thank this season is a smart investment of time. A focused conversation versus a passing, fleeting comment goes a long way in building a lasting connection. A strong connection between leaders and employees is what keeps turnover low and performance high — even during a pandemic.

Deliver a handwritten note.

A handwritten note is something people can hang on to, refer back to, and remember the sentiment forever. None of us receive handwritten notes very often, but when we do, it’s special! Make your thanks extra special this year with a handwritten note of sincere, specific gratitude.

Public praise.

If you can’t reach out personally with a one-on-one conversation or a handwritten note, praising in public is the next best thing. Whether you’re giving a shout out on social media, a call out in a team meeting, or internal email, don’t forget to be specific about what and who you’re thankful for. It’s much more meaningful to call people by name versus saying something like “the Operations department.” And when you’re specific about exactly why you’re thankful for them, they’ll be more likely to keep doing what it is you’re thankful for! 

When you share publicly how much you appreciate someone, the person will feel your pride in them and it allows other people to chime in and elevate the gratitude sentiment.

Who…

Direct Reports.

You may have 100+ people in your organization. It very well may be far-fetched for you to be able to find the time to meet with each one. Be sure to sincerely thank everyone under you in your organization, and be sure to have a one-on-one conversation or send a handwritten note to your direct reports. They know you best and expect that you know them best, too. 

Stand Outs.

In addition to your direct reports, who else in the organization has caught your attention over the past year? Maybe these questions will spur some ideas:

  1. Is there someone who speaks up and adds value to your processes? 
  2. Who has been the heart of the team during COVID?
  3. Has a coworker gone out of their way to help you this past year?
  4. Is there a vendor that has made exceptions for you or the organization during the pandemic?


When you have standouts in the organization, leaders should make a point to recognize them and share your gratitude.

While leaders should express their gratitude year-round, this season is especially important. There are only a few days left before Thanksgiving. Don’t let the opportunity to build stronger connections throughout your organization pass by. Take action today!

Your Turn

Do you have a unique idea or an experience where someone left you speechless with their expression of gratitude? Please share in the comments below — we’d love to hear your ideas!



From all of us at Van Hooser Associates, Inc., we’re wishing you, your organization, and all who are special to you a very happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

#thanksgiving2020 #showyourgratitude #thankemployees #waystothankemployees #leadershipdevelopment #thankfulleaders

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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