I have already begun planning the meal I will prepare for my family and friends this Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday. I enjoy sharing food and time with the people I care about, and expressing to them why they are special or important to me.

What would it be like if we, as managers and leaders, carried this sentiment of gratitude into work with us each day?

Countless employees I’ve spoken with through the years tell me, “No news is good news,” when it comes to interactions with their managers. “My boss only ever comes around when I’ve screwed something up.” I have also heard some managers say, “Why should I acknowledge when someone is just doing their job, meeting my expectations? That’s what their paycheck is for!” I think this is unfortunate, and that managers are missing a tremendous opportunity to harness the power of positive reinforcement.

As Psychologist and Behavioral Scientist, Aubrey Daniels’ research demonstrates that “People do things because of what happens to them right after they do it. If the consequence feels positive to the “doer”, they will continue to perform that behavior in the future (increasing the behavior). If the consequence feels negative to the “doer”, they will likely stop performing that behavior in the future.” It is not simply “performance appraisal” or pats on the back. It has to do with applying the appropriate consequences and reinforcement to someone following behavior they perform that either increases or decreases the occurrence of that behavior again in the future.

Which means that we, as managers and leaders, MUST pay attention to, and acknowledge in some way, when we “catch people doing something good” if we want them to do more of that “something good.”

Have you expressed sincere and specific gratitude to a team member today?

(PS – If the answer is “No”, it’s not too late to start!)