Just Say “Thank You”

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When was the last time you said “Thank you”?

When was the last time that someone said “Thank you” to you?

When was the last time that someone said “Thank you” to you on your job?

The act of expressing gratitude and acknowledgement for performance above and beyond is called recognition – in the workplace, employee recognition.

An acquaintance of mine recently shared something her manager had done that was a beautiful example of employee recognition. The manager wrote a letter of thanks.

I don’t mean a Tweet, an email, or a typed message. I mean a handwritten (in cursive) “thank you” note on paper. A note that was sent via the Post Office.

For her that had to be so much better than receiving a bill or “junk mail.”

How many people write thank you notes any more?

I have a colleague who makes it a point to handwrite and mail a “thank you” note to someone every day.

Does this sound old-fashioned? When did thoughtfulness and a personal touch go out of style?

This colleague has spent a lifetime as an expert on etiquette, especially business etiquette, and in her opinion, gracious thanks is never outdated, whether in the business world or in personal life.

Even if you do not work in a corporate environment, keep reading, there is something for you.

When the recession hit, many companies shrunk their rewards and recognition budgets. This was a stressful time when hard-working employees needed appreciation and reassurance more than ever. While monetary reward programs might call for trimming in hard times, the concept of thankfulness and appreciation is always free. Perhaps when times are tough, companies need to focus on their recognition culture even more.

An employee recognition program is a means of supporting and honoring individuals and teams who contribute to the success of the organization through positive behaviors. Studies show that recognition increases productivity, reinforces initiative and creativity, builds relationships and team functionality, improves customer service, raises employee engagement and improves retention of employees.

It’s one thing to motivate people towards behavior through promised rewards, but better yet to instill a constant sense of “doing the right thing” because it is better for the company, customer and employee. In the end, it is the corporate culture that needs to be shifted so that the underlying philosophy will become firmly established.

To be effective, informal recognition needs to be sincere, timely and specific, and may consist of nothing more than a few well-chosen words of appreciation or praise. Sometimes the best recognition is simple and free. But just because it doesn’t cost, doesn’t mean it can’t have a great impact on an employee. What is key here is fitting the method of recognition to the employee’s likes or dislikes. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be recognized in a public display! Given in the wrong way, praise can end up being counterproductive. When managers get to know their employees on a one-to-one basis, then they will know how their employees want to be recognized.

So the next time that someone does something for you on the job, whether it is expected or unexpected – take a moment to say those two words that our mothers taught us were magical: “Thank you.” It will only take a moment of your time, but it could be the bright spot that makes that person’s day.

This advice applies not just to managers, but also to co-workers, to entrepreneurs, clients and vendors. It applies to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins. It applies when you go to the grocery store, retail store or restaurants. It applies even when a friend does something for you. When was the last time you said, “Thank you for just being you”?

My mother always reminded me to say thank you often. One might feel it in your heart, but unless the person hears it, they are not going to know. “Please” and “thank you” are three of the most magical words.

Here’s a challenge for you this week. See if you can say “thank you” at least once a day to someone. Once you master that, you can go buy those notecards!


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