Key to building great culture and high performing teams — Gratitude

Do your job, that is what you are paid for

The old management style books and greats took a stance of — that is your job, why would I compliment you on it. Even the rating systems today 1–10 land people at a 5 if they do their job, because they did their job. Numbers loose context, personalities, impact, and the culture of an organization. In fact, if we measured people by this antiquated system we would fire the greatest CEOs and founders from around the highest growth companies over the past 20 years. Why? Because they were not only great at their skill but their true superpower was empathy and building culture.

Gratitude Matters

Empathy leads the day today in the work circles. But is it really new? Is the need to show gratitude and kindness new? I would say no, but the impact of not showing gratitude is magnified today do several factors.

Zero tolerance for negativity

Employees today (this generation, but their sensitivity and emphasis for kindness is beginning to spill into the larger workforce) have zero tolerance for negative (tough?) environments and immense ability to move to other teams, businesses, and even countries that will cater to these human needs.

Unscarred generation to economic pain

Employment and economics have been hyper inflated and good these days, and has led to a current generation of workers who have never been employed / run a business / lived through any economic down periods, and so they really have no context for how bad life cycles can swing. I remember living on inflatable furniture, two sets of silverware and a pot from the $1 store, and living on Ramen noodles for 80% of my meals at .20 a meal for a few rough months. As a result, I (older generation, ouch) and others are more conservative in switching as we believe goodwill is built with time and switching rapidly reduces it. This actually might be the worst and largest assumption now that pensions are basically as risky as social security.

Give appreciation and share gratitude

The number one habit of leaders and high performing groups is giving appreciation and sharing gratitude. It needs to be honest, direct, in person, and can be private or in public. The shift of mindset cannot be — I expect them to do that, and they did it. You must shift and here is how:

  • Compliment them on GOOD work (don’t be false here)
  • Have good intentions, when you give gratitude and share appreciation do it solely to give them that feedback
  • No feedback sandwiches, don’t wrap a negative with two compliments — that is something different
  • Gratitude isn’t always about money rewards, in fact it is far better to do something personally relevant to that person than to give them a check (an example here is to buy a team member a bag of coffee from your trip because you know they love coffee and where you are going has the world’s greatest, hint hint)
  • Talk directly — if you want to have an impact, engage them one-on-one


  • Measure someone’s performance in front of another
  • Give criticism in open spaces
  • Lie, you still need to fire and swap team members when performance is creating a bad environment internally or in the market
  • Lie, about appreciation and quality of work .. it damages your brand and your efforts
  • Allow unkind and ego to spread negativity in your environment

Be better; Be Thankful

This is an area I am desperate to improving. I have done exceptionally great and incredibly missed the ball when I allowed life to catch me. Honestly I have even let a holiday break create a poor environment, because I didn’t over execute on this gratitude concept.

How often do you thank people for what they are doing?




Mark it on your calendar and make it a habit today

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James DeLuccia

James DeLuccia


Technologist, Researcher, Artist, Executive, Father, Author, Inventor, Speaker, and CrossFit...