As children most of us were constantly reminded to say “Thank you.” As your mother or father picked you up from a birthday party or some other event, you were most likely asked, “Did you say thank you?” Those of you who are parents probably go through a similar routine with your children. Saying thank you is one of the basics of good manners.
It is also an excellent form of motivation. In Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, by Bob Wall, a study in which 1500 people from different organizations and industries revealed that when asked to list which incentives were the most meaningful to them the top five were:
1. A personal thanks from their manager
2. Written thanks from their manager
3. A promotion based on performance
4. Public praise
5. Morale building meetings or activities
Despite this, 58% had never received personal thanks from their managers and 76% had never received written thanks and 81% rarely (and some never) received public praise.
It costs you nothing to say thank you and takes only a minute or two of your time.
The key is that your expression of gratitude needs to be sincere. An absent minded, “Hey thanks”, will not do the trick. What did your team member do that was worthy of your appreciation? What type of effort did they expend? What did it mean to you personally, and you can also add what did it mean for the company or the client or the rest of the team? Timeliness is also important. The sooner that you thank Bob for his work the better.
Consider these two examples:
1. Wall, Bob. Coaching for Emotional Intelligence the Secret to Developing the Star Potential in Your Employees. New York: Amacom, 2007. 126.
1. “Hey Bob, thanks for your work this week.”
2. “Bob, thank you very much for putting in extra hours over the past week in order to test that additional component that we added to the unit. Your work has put my mind at ease as we move forward with our go live. Because you put in those extra hours, our customer now has an even more reliable product AND we are still able to deliver it to them on the original due date. You have made it even more likely that they will sign additional contracts with us.”
The first example is of course better than nothing. The second example is very specific. Bob knows that you really paid attention to him and to his work.
In this day of texts and other electronic communications, an old-fashioned hand-written card or note makes a world of difference. To be honest in a contest for the world’s worst handwriting, I would place in the finals, I might even win the bronze medal. Yet, I have seen cards I wrote to team members in their offices for months after they received the card. They were not keeping the cards because of the calligraphy that is for certain.
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” – Ralph Marston
Speaking of gratitude – thank you for reading this and for being part of my community.