Mary Kay Ash (founder of the eponymous cosmetics brand) once said: “There are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise.” And truly, very few people aspire to come to work daily to do a crappy or mediocre job. And most people — and, as a result, most organizations — actually do pretty well. So what should they get in return? A simple “thank you” can work wonders.
Hearing “thank you” is special because it is a way of making an employee or a co-worker feel valued while increasing that ever-important employee connection. Because employees receive compensation, they (and their bosses) might feel that gratitude is not part of the relationship – after all, the expectation is a job well done. But hearing “thank you” from the boss or a colleague can be even more special praise than from a client or customer.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, here are some suggestions for putting “thank you” into your work relationships:
Set aside time every week to acknowledge people’s good work. Carve out some dedicated weekly time, be it 15, 20, or 30 minutes, to review the good work your team is doing. Then, acknowledge it! Even a brief email dedicated to “thank you” can be meaningful.
Handwrite thank-you notes whenever you can. The personal touch matters in the digital age. This is especially important after interviews or meetings with potential clients. Not only is it classy, but a handwritten note will certainly make you stand out.
Punish in private; praise in public. Make the public praise timely and specific.
Remember to cc people’s supervisors. Gratitude and acknowledgement are important one-on-one, but often it’s great to clue in someone’s boss to give the recognition that extra oomph.
- Foster a culture of gratitude. A mentor once told me “If you start looking for the good, it’s amazing what you’ll find.” It’s a game-changer for sustainably better performance.
“Thank you” makes employees feel recognized and appreciated, but they have to be truthful, specific, and positive. Don't make praise overblown or out of context. Thank yous need to be given the right way for them to be truly meaningful – not everyone responds to a generic “great job!” For example, instead of thanking an employee for her work on the last project, call out specific details like how well she managed a difficult client or resolved a sticky budget situation. Being truthful, specific and positive shows the employee that this isn’t just lip service – you really mean it! Thank yous like that create loyalty and help you retain the best people, in turn propelling your own career.
Any of us who receives a sincere “thank you” knows and appreciates what it means. So this holiday season, don’t limit your thanks to those within range of your yearly feast. Give a thought to your second home – your office – where you spend much of your precious time. Go ahead and share that attitude of gratitude!