Thank You Ladder: Appreciate Your Staff This Season

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Fall is the time of year I love because the leaves change into beautiful colours and the weather is cooler.  For a person who loves the outdoors like me, I am never going inside. Some people have an appreciation for fall because it gets them thinking about outdoor activities, football, or the holidays.  People are thinking about family and friends they are going to invite to their homes to celebrate traditions and values that make this time of year special. If you are a corporate executive or business owner, you are no doubt thinking about showing appreciation to your staff during the end of this year.  While it is customary to host end of the year appreciation parties my question to you is “should this time of year be the only time staff is appreciated”?

     Acts of appreciation should be a practice that is ongoing in business for all levels of staff.  Top executives or administrative staff are the ones that receive bonuses quarterly or yearly for the milestones a business has made during the year. However, what about support staff that is doing the work.  Administrative staff and executives ensure the business is running smoothly daily, however, support staff are primarily responsible for the interactions with customers. They provide services, support, and handle customer complaints.  Support staff ensures customers have great experiences and establish personal relationships with them, so they feel valued and keep coming back. Take a minute and picture in your mind what a business would look like if you had to do everything without staff.   Some of you might say “I’ve been there, I did that”. I don’t doubt this isn’t true but wasn’t it easier when you were able to hire staff. With staff, your long days may have still been long, but your focus was on business growth. The small business you started may now be a corporation. Or the corporation you lead may dominate your industry.  Regardless, of the size of your business, the point of this article is that all employees should receive appreciation and not just at the end of the year.

    Appreciation and saying, “Thank You”, does start at the top of the ladder with the executive level.  However, the lower levels on the ladder deserve equal appreciation and words of thanks. Let’s examine some of the parts of a ladder for a moment to make this point. The top part of the ladder is called Top Cap.  The Top Cap is the part of the ladder in which no climbing or standing is recommended. You the business owner or executive director are the Top Cap of the business nothing goes beyond your level. Therefore, it is very important that all levels below you remain strong to maintain your position. The next level below the Top Cap is the Top Step. This level also comes with a recommendation of no climbing or standing.  In business, the Top Step would be your administrative team. The Top Step helps keep the Top Cap in place. In this regard, we can say the administrative team helps the executive director maintain their position. However, the lower levels of the ladder help support and make sturdy the Top Cap and Top Step. Another part of a ladder is the Spreaders. The Spreaders have a unique position on the ladder because they support the middle part of a ladder.  The Spreaders know when to bring everything together and when to separate because it has opening and closing mechanisms. The Spreaders could be compared to the roles of your HR Department, managers, supervisors, or team leaders. Spreaders extinguish company fires among employees, develop talent, and support the Top Cap and Top Step by reporting the on-goings of the lower levels. The Spreaders also ensure all areas have the tools and resources they need to work effectively and optimize customer experiences. The Spreaders know that while their number may be small they carry a crucial role in unifying management and staff.  The Rails on a ladder impacts every part of the ladder because it determines the length. The Rails of a business can be compared to employees that have such a strong belief in the mission and values of the organization they are selling it to everyone including you. Rails believe their company is the best in their industry. Rails are an organization’s most loyal employee. Remember, that. Rails will welcome new employees and tell them everything they need to know about the organization. Rails realize company success and supporting all parts of the ladder are important, not their personal agendas. Rails are individuals that will never leave your company.  The more rails you have, the larger your business will grow. The next level on a ladder is steps. You need steps on a ladder because the rails need something to hold together. The lower steps hold much of the weight placed on a ladder. Think about it, for the most part, customers never climb to the top of the ladder they navigate up a few steps and go back down. The lower steps are always going to get stepped on regardless of how far a person climbs the ladder. Lower steps are support staff they carry the weight of customer’s experience. When customers are rude or want to blame someone for not meeting their needs lower steps are burdened with this responsibility.  Sometimes, they must work with limited tools or resources and still get their job done satisfactorily. By now, I am sure you agree all parts of a ladder are needed and appreciated.

    As a business executive, appreciation of your ladder should be monthly.  Just ask the maintenance guys what happens when a ladder malfunctions. Appreciation should not just be limited to the administrative team.  Your customers are not patronizing the business to see the management staff or marketing representative. Customers develop relationships with employees at the lower levels of the ladder and look forward to seeing them each time they visit.  

Divide and share the wealth.  Remember, all parts of a ladder are needed to keep it stabilized.

Michelle Thompson is the owner of Pecan P.I.E. Marketing Firm.  The firm focuses on internal marketing strategies to ensure the external message to your customers is relayed internally.  The blogs are designed for business leaders and owners to get their team members on board with the mission and values of the organization so customers have amazing experiences.  Please email comments to  Visit our website at

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