Home Leadership Five Ways for Leaders to Say “Well Done!”

Five Ways for Leaders to Say “Well Done!”

by Dr. Bruce Ellis

I recently came across a quote by John Ashcroft, former governor for Missouri and a previous Attorney General, saying, “The worst mistake a boss can make is to not say ‘Well done.’” Hearing that caused me to reflect on several previous leaders I had. I once had a supervisor who asked me, “When I tell you that you’ve done a great job, would you rather it be in private or a group setting?” Taken aback, I had to think for a moment; the previous supervisor rarely offered up any praise and that seemed to have become the norm…until the new supervisor arrived.

That got me to thinking about how this year has gone: Who have I worked with that I’ve appreciated their work, but failed to communicate my gratefulness to them? In today’s fast-paced work environment it is easy to quickly look to the next problem that needs to be conquered without taking time to recognize those that helped you get past this problem. So, as the school year comes to a close, I offer you several resources to help you say “Well done” to those special individuals around you.

  • The written note – If writing out a thank you note doesn’t come easy, consider taking a look at some examples to help prime the pump and make the wordsmithing easier. Hallmark makes it easy by sharing with you their secret formula to writing a simple but powerful thank you note. Last year, our PD department had a WOW! notebook that we used to recognize each other. When we saw someone on the team going above and beyond, we would write a note in the WOW! Notebook to the person and hand it to them as we said thank you. The ball was now in their court to pass on the gratitude by noticing someone else. It was nice to look back over the notes written by the different team members to see what others had done well that I had overlooked or were unaware of.
  • Incorporate a culture of expressing thanks on a regular basis – Follow SnackNation’s example. Doing it weekly as a team may not fit your department’s schedule, but be sure to make an effort to have it on a consistent and timely basis.
  • Leverage social media to say “Great job!” When doing so, consider which tool your staff member uses, and, if your district or department has their own account that you can post to, use that tool as your outlet. Otherwise, include your department’s or district’s hashtag or handle in the post. Here are some additional hashtags to pick from and add to your post: #LeadByExample, #WellDone, or #GreatJob.
  • Create an Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award – This award can be given out each month. Put checkpoints in place to hear from those your department serves in order to get feedback on how well your team is doing and how they are making a difference. Use this feedback as part of your criteria for the ABCD Award.
  • Designate a trophy – A trophy or other item can be given to a staff member who does well. Our department this year will be using a trophy. Similar to our WOW notebook, once you get it, you’ll have a week to pass it on (pay it forward) to other coworkers by recognizing someone else’s work.


No boss or leader wants to be considered ungrateful, though it can easily be seen as that when we overlook those who are playing important roles around us. So, before the school year comes to a close, be sure to take the time to say “Well done.” Then leave a comment and let me know ways you have honored others to let them know you appreciate their hard work. And, if you would like a list of additional resources that I’ve curated on this topic, email me and I’ll send them to you.

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Peggy Reimers May 10, 2016 - 8:53 pm

Miguel is our first recipient of the TCEA PD Dept. KICK IT Trophy Award. He of course, received it for his blogging! =0)

Miguel Guhlin May 11, 2016 - 9:52 am

Thanks so much, Peggy! I wrote about my experience receiving the award here:

Readers can see the actual trophy, a creation of Bruce’s workshop and which he refers to in bullet #5 in his blog entry.



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