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  • Writer's pictureRobert Christopher

Say it, Say it, Say Thank You!

Saying thank you just might be a lost art in corporate America. When was the last time you truly thanked someone at the office for making a unique difference? Words of gratitude are often spoken of myself, but as an HR Professional, it kind of comes with the expectation of the position.

The goal of the “Thank You” in the workplace is to express gratitude and reinforce positive behaviors. The delivery of a thank you message is the art, and the way in which you recognize a member of your staff can leave the recipient with a positive or negative impression (+/-). Kate Harrison, Forbes contributor, talked about this in 2013 when she discussed its good for business from the standpoint of the customer. It is also a good business from the standpoint of the employee.

We have all heard or received the fly by thank you a statement, where a co-worker or boss says, “Keep up the good work” or “Thanks for all you do”. Those are always nice phrases to hear at first but those statements have a short-term impact on the employee’s continued long-term positive behavior.

Positive Gratitude = Positive Attitude

You get in return, what you invest in kind words.

To deliver a more effective positive message when thanking someone for good work, consider the following steps.

  • Keep the location-neutral, away from their normal work area so that you have their full attention.

  • Be concise, state the specific reason why you are recognizing them.

  • Thank them for doing more than what is expected and encourage them to continue their efforts.

Here is an example of a well-crafted thank you note I read recently; Mark, the way you came into this project team with a positive outlook and ability to analyze the situation differently than the rest of the team is what made the difference. Your keen insight and fresh eyes identified what we overlooked and had it not been for your contributions, our team would likely still be looking for the reason the gaps in performance existed. Thank you for making us better and for teaching us another way to solve problems. Bravo to you Mark!

That is a better delivery than “Atta Boy Marko, you rock”

Another suggestion is to prepare ahead of time by writing out a thank you note and reading it aloud to the employee before you hand it to them. I heard it said best by a peer of mine at an annual president’s meeting when she addressed the CEO and said, “There is always a better way to say something, take a moment to think before you speak”. I think many of us have lost the art of kindness as well. Invest the time with positive words and they will be returned back to you.

If you are giving an employee a written thank you note, make sure you ask the people most affected by their positive contribution to sign the card. Following up on the conversation with an email can be just as powerful as the thank you card approach, consider carbon copying “CC” the team as well. I like this approach as a green-friendly alternative to the thank you card.

Replacing performance management with a thank you card alone is not a reasonable option, but it is a solid attempt to retain staff, keep them motivated and show appreciation. Geoffrey James spoke about this in 2013 when he discussed what employees want more than a raise. The value of gratitude gained in return will be demonstrated by the recipient’s continued contributions at work. Consider saying thank you, the best way you can the next time a coworker goes beyond expectations.

Thank you for reading this post and please share it with others. If you agree it is time to bring gratitude back to the workplace, please “like or comment” on this post.

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