Enjoy this excerpt from our new book, Healthy Leadership.

Research from Gallup revealed that the most effective teams have at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Demonstrating appreciation for contributions is a powerful way to create a positive interaction.

On the home front, this same research found the ratio for the most effective marriages is at least 5:1. Bottom line: It is wise to apply this ratio for your home team and your work team.

When it comes to demonstrating appreciation, you have complete control. No budget limitations or excuses here—there are literally thousands of ways to demonstrate your appreciation at little to no cost.

You can occasionally offer a gift card or some other token of modest value, but you should rely more on your creativity and knowledge of the employee to personalize the gesture.

The key to demonstrating your appreciation is making it sincere, specific, and meaningful. Don’t fall into the trap of blurting out the robotic, “Good job.”

Take time to explain why you appreciate an employee’s performance, such as, “I really appreciate the way you kept our customer happy without incurring additional cost.”

In our work at client organizations, we have seen more than a few handwritten notes of appreciation on employees’ desks. Often these cards are several years old (five-plus years in several cases), yet they are still prominently and proudly displayed. That speaks volumes about emotional connection.

We often wonder if the bosses who wrote them understand how much discretionary effort their three-minute investment yielded or know how meaningful those cards were to those employees.

Greg Brown, chief customer service officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, says, “The little things you do are more important than the big things you say.”

He sends electronic anniversary cards to each of his 1,000-plus leaders. He also makes a habit of writing notes to anyone he catches doing something right.

Find a way to express your appreciation that is natural to you. Not everyone is a note-card writer, but every leader can find a way to demonstrate appreciation that feels authentic.

Healthy Leadership Book