The Importance of Saying Thank You

In our organizations, it is inevitable that people will leave at some point. Although I want to make the organization I lead a place where people love to work, there are reasons people choose to go in a different direction. I’ve heard a lot of reasons why people leave but there is one that really hits me hard as a leader that I think we should never hear if we are leading effectively.

There are those who leave for better opportunities, more challenges or more money. Others leave because of the lack of clear organizational vision, bad work culture or bad leadership, but there is one reason that really embarrasses me to hear. That reason is the feeling of not being appreciated.

“Not feeling appreciated”. This shouldn’t happen, right? It should be pretty straight forward and easy to communicate gratitude when others contribute to moving the ball down the field, right? From my experience, it’s not that straight forward. It’s not that practiced. It’s not that common.

Unexpressed gratitude can be interpreted by others as ingratitude. In fact, unexpressed gratitude can be felt as rejection. How many times have you done something for someone but didn’t get a thank you in return? How did you feel? I’ve personally been on both sides of this. I’ve felt the feeling of rejection when I’ve invested in others with no appreciation in return and I’ve been the one who failed to show the proper appreciation. As a leader, I can control the latter and choose to say thank you.

There are a few things I’ve tried to implement to help with this. I can’t catch everything as a leader, but I can be observant and build the habit of showing appreciation when it’s appropriate.

Here are a few things I’ve tried:

• Write thank you cards: Head out to Wal-Mart and buy a pack of thank you cards and write 2-3 each week to show appreciation for someone. You don’t know how much impact this will have until you try it. It has the potential to make someone’s day.

• Say thank you in public: Some people like to be recognized in public. It makes them feel more appreciated. Take time to figure out who this is on your team and use this platform to say thank you.

• Say thank you in private: Others like private recognition. Use private opportunities to show appreciation for their work. You can use a short thank you email, use your one on one time or another creative way to say thank you in a private manner.

• Respond in a timely manner: Say thank you when the situation is fresh. Don’t wait days or weeks to circle back around to say thank you. Show appreciation while it’s still timely and relevant.

• Personalize the thank you: Again, your teammates like to be appreciated in unique and different ways. Take time to learn this and then personalize your appreciation. Tell them specifically what you are thankful for.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Robert Brault. He says, “There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.”

Do what you need to do to make everyone feel and understand they are appreciated. Don’t let this be a reason why someone leaves your team or your organization.

Discussion Question: What other things have you used to show others how much you appreciate their efforts?

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6 Responses to The Importance of Saying Thank You

  1. Jason russell says:

    Thank you for writing this post.

  2. letempspasse says:

    Your post is a healthy reminder ! Positive reinforcement and showing gratitude does wonders for troop morale. One of the things I also like to do, to show my appreciation, is bring a Friday morning treat for my staff (donuts, muffins or croissants). Sometimes I treat them to group Pizza. Great time to share tidbits of personal life and just plain fun.

  3. M Evans says:

    True – thank you’s alone are powerful. Combine them with timely and sincere professional constructive criticism and you have a very powerful formula for team growth and motivation. Not to toot my horn but as a reinforcement to the impact of a thank you note, here’s an email response I received from a handwritten note I mailed to the person’s home (not their internal mail folder – another recommended tactic so that others in their lives see them getting acknowledged):

    “I got your personal note on the project last night in the mail…just thought I would drop you a line to acknowledge receiving it and say thank you! I know you’re busy with plenty of other work, so it’s a meaningful gesture in my mind when a VP takes the time to send something like that out to the project team. “

  4. Pingback: Why It’s Better to Finish 3rd Instead of 2nd | Corey Towe – Simple Lessons of Leadership and Life

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