How to Inspire Your Team

Recognition is a funny animal. Author Ken Blanchard says, “The last applause most people got was at their high school graduation.” How sad is that? I mean, think about it. When’s the last time someone applauded you that didn’t involve tripping over something and landing on your face?

I have plenty of co-workers who applaud me from the back of the room when I’m on stage and can’t say the word perpetuity in one shot. Mastering that word is a lot like parallel parking, if you get it on one shot, you throw your hands up and say, “That’s right! One time baby!” OK, maybe that’s just me. I do have the advantage of having groups of people applaud me after I speak. Although, I can’t ever figure out if it’s because I was good—or because I was leaving. I dunno.

It’s not hard for me to remember what it was like working at a company where the occasional applause never happened. It was a happy day when my leader realized it had been a while since he had told any of his team members, “Good job.” He would come out of his office and have that look on his face like he just spun the Wheel of Fortune in his head with all of our names on it. “Ah! LoCurto, you’re doing a good job. Keep it up.” Then, you could see the pencil in his head check that task off his list for the week. If that’s you, WHY DO YOU WORK WITH PEOPLE?!

Do you remember when you were a little kid, and you so badly wanted your dad or mom to put their arm around you and tell you how special you were? Or your first day of a new school when you hoped you could make at least one friend? Or the numerous times you wished your brother would quit pinning you down by putting his knees on your arms and torturing you for what seemed like your entire pre-teen life? Just me again?

The truth is, we all want to be accepted for who we are and recognized for our talents and abilities. Nobody likes the guy who recognizes you by checking it off the task list in his head. Instead, we all would like someone to put their arm around our neck and tell us how amazing we are. We want a person to tell us that we’re special and just how proud they are of us. Okay, I can hear the tough folks out there saying, “I don’t need that sissy stuff!” Oh yes you do … and it’s not sissy.

It’s called affection. And if you don’t recognize it, you probably haven’t received it in a while. What’s sad is that so many people haven’t felt that pat on the back, heard the sincere voice of appreciation, or heard applause that didn’t require them eating 10 tacos in under a minute for so long that they don’t realize how many people around them haven’t either.

There are people on your team, in your leadership and within your family and friends who are starved for recognition. And while it’s highly possible you’re not receiving the recognition you deserve right now, you have the choice to break that cycle. Spend a few moments thinking of some of the amazing things your team members, spouse and children have done lately and go tell them about it. Who knows—they might just recognize you back.

Question: What’s your favorite way someone showed appreciation for you??





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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

22 thoughts on “How to Inspire Your Team”

  1. My youngest is a very bright unique little girl, she is very loving, and loves to hug everyone in sight, especially when she hasn’t been very nice to them (Quick to anger and quick to forgive and make up). She likes to give me lots of little things she makes at school, or at home accompanied by words like “You are the bestest mommy in the whole world”, “I love you all the way to God”. Every time she does it (Whether she means (i know she does) or she is just making up for something:), it makes my day!

  2. My husband just had a great experience with this. He rewarded some coworkers with tokens to the vending machine as a thank you for their help. From his description, it was as if they had won the lottery. He got some recognition himself, because his manager thought it was the greatest thing.

    As far as recognizing people in the right way, I think Dr. Chapman’s Five Love Languages can help. If you know your team well, you can identify what makes their world go round:

    – Words of affirmation: Way to go Steve! You did a fantastic job on the presentation today (has to be specific).

    – Quality time: Hey, do you have time to go to the break room and have coffee? I would like to thank you for your contribution to our new project. Or give them the afternoon off to do something special with their family.

    – Gifts: Hey, thanks so much for your extra effort on meeting a very tight deadline. I hope you and your spouse enjoy going out to dinner on us. Here’s a $50 gift card for you guys. (I know you do this, Chris).

    – Acts of Service: How jazzed up would your team be if their leader brings in his world-famous triple fudge brownies that he baked himself the night before? (I had an AWESOME leader that cooked lunch for us every so often!)

    – Physical Touch: OK, this one an be tricky in the workplace, but a pat in the back or a handshake can be very effective.

    I have experienced appreciation in all these different ways from leaders and coworkers. Bottom line, appreciation motivates me to do my best.

  3. Everyone, everything is an example. Good or poor. My department of the company I work at is great example of what not to do or rather of what needs to change, of what I want differently when I own/run my own business. I am temped to print these and slip them under the bosses door from time to time.

    1. BAH!!!!! That’s awesome!! You might ask if you can bring up specific concerns to see how they would like to handle them. Kinda passive aggressive, but better than telling them they suck. 🙂

  4. I enjoy a small gift card left on my desk that says…Thanks for your hard work on this specific project. I’ve had that done to me and occasionally do that with my own team. I think it’s important to be very specific with what you’re “applauding” them on so it’s more genuine.

  5. When someone buys my artwork, I feel so appreciated that it might even be illegal. I try to act all professional, no big deal, I sell art every day, but I have to use great restraint to not do a little victory dance while they are still looking.


    I wouldn’t turn down brownies if they were offered. That might be a little pathetic too.

  6. This, and the podcast about recognition, is brilliant. What I liked the most from the podcast was hand writing notes to people. IMAGINE that?? I seriously think it’s been about 15 years since I last got a handwritten letter. 15 YEARS!!! I bet I’m not the only one. So I took that to heart and started writing to my clients to thank them for their business. I don’t know what they did with it, but it felt cool to do!

    Our team of teachers is next!

  7. What’s your favorite way someone showed appreciation for you??

    I think appreciation can be in the form of —
    * spoken words of approval,
    * deeds of favor,
    * physical contact, and
    * love expressed in quality time.

    The mode which resonates with me the most is “deeds of favor”.

  8. A young man that I have mentored and who is one of my best friends dressed up as me for Halloween, which is also my birthday. When he showed up at the party with one of those ‘bald’ caps and a fake goatee, I laughed so hard that I cried. He had covered every detail, down to the same exact socks and shoes I usually wear. He walked up and imitated my voice and general swagger and gave me a big hug. It was awesome being roasted and appreciated at the same time!

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