How to Give Positive Acknowledgement to Team Members

Five simple acts that provide motivation and strengthen working relationships

Photo by Jordan P. Photography

Many leaders often overlook opportunities to acknowledge team members every day. For busy leaders, taking the time to provide acknowledgement may seem unnecessary or extra. Unfortunately, this means that team members often don’t receive the positive acknowledgement and support that they deserve and crave.

Taking time to regularly acknowledge team members for their work and behavior has powerful results that drive productivity, dedication, and engagement. For teams and organizations, positive acknowledgement from leaders serves as motivation as well as a feedback loop for reinforcing actions and behaviors that drive progress.

Ready to refuel your team’s productivity and engagement? Here are five essential ways to give positive acknowledgement to team members.

1. The most basic: Say, “Thank you”

The simplest form of acknowledgement that so many leaders surprisingly overlook is saying, “thank you”. Whether for a completing small task or covering while someone is on vacation, a “thank you” in words or in an e-mail goes a long way. I’m so often surprised at how many team members report that their leader doesn’t seem to appreciate their work.

Many leaders believe a paycheck serves as acknowledgement. However, a paycheck is merely validation that someone is fulfilling the basic requirements of a job. Positive acknowledgement is invaluable, essential validation. It is a human necessity to feel valued and respected whether at work or in life. If team members don’t receive positive acknowledgement regularly, they often lose track of the value of the work they do and lose respect for their leader. “Thank you” is an easy form of acknowledgement that builds strong team morale.

2. Give one-on-one praise and feedback

Leaders that regularly provide one-on-one praise and feedback build the strongest relationships with team members. Highlighting individual and team wins serves as motivation. Highlighting excellent behavior to team members fuels confidence. Spend a few minutes in one-on-one meetings with team members reviewing things they have recently done well. One-on-one praise creates a positive leader-team member relationship and acts as feedback about the actions and behaviors that serve. On a deeper level, feedback and encouragement from a respected leader has the power to change someone’s career trajectory and perception of their potential in profound ways.

3. Give public recognition

Not all team members appreciate public praise. However, giving positive acknowledgement in front of the team sets an example for the team as to what actions and behaviors are serving the team. If you have a platform where it is appropriate to publicly acknowledge wins in a group setting, spend time acknowledging wins and leadership behavior with specific examples. Team members enjoy seeing other team members succeed and benefit from learning that actions and behaviors that are celebrated by the leadership team.

4. Give Opportunities

Another powerful way to motivate team members is to acknowledge and reward by giving opportunities. The opportunity depends on the person, their interests, and their desires. Great opportunities for team members are attending conferences or travel opportunities to visit partners or clients. Courses and trainings are also opportunities for employees to learn and progress professionally. For aspiring leaders, a leadership opportunity, such as managing a summer intern, is an excellent opportunity to expand their potential. Acknowledge excellent work and behavior by using your power as a leader to give opportunities to star team members. This is a valuable form of positive acknowledgement for team members and the organization.

5. Give Promotions, small or large

Finally, promotions are an exciting way to acknowledge team members that have contributed to the team or exhibited leadership behavior. Leaders often wait too long to reward promotions to star team members and they regret when a team member leaves prematurely for an opportunity where they feel valued and acknowledged more fairly. Receiving a promotion in title and salary is an indication that someone is an asset and you want to see them grow and evolve with the organization. When you give significant expanded responsibility, make sure to give that along with a promotion. Whether a large promotion or a smaller one like adding “Senior” to the title, promotions are exciting for team members and they often approach their work with a renewed sense of dedication and engagement.

Photo by Jorden P. Photography

Build a team culture of progress and engagement with these simple yet powerful acts of positive acknowledgement. Validation and encouragement from a respected leader goes a long way in fueling dedication, confidence, and morale. Acknowledgement is essential and should not be limited to performance review periods. However, acknowledgement should not be fake or given so often and freely that it becomes meaningless. Choose your methods for giving acknowledgement. Embrace every opportunity to give acknowledgement to your team members to build a thriving team culture.

Thanks for reading!

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To learn more about Awake Leadership Solutions and Hilary Jane Grosskopf, visit

Hilary Jane Grosskopf

Written by

Systems engineer, leadership strategist, writer, and yogi. Founder of Awake Leadership Solutions. Author of the Awake Leadership and Awake Ethics guidebooks.

Awake Leadership Solutions

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