"A word of appreciation often can accomplish what nothing else could accomplish." ~BC Forbes
“Most people do not receive nearly enough appreciation. Appreciation is free, easy, and readily available? Go give some away now.” ~Rhoberta Shaler
I talk a lot about communicating with your team and celebrating success. Both of these actions are at their most powerful when they are at the personal level. In the past, one of the things the greatest of leaders did was to write hand written thank you notes to team members. The physical act and the extra time and care that the employee knew had to occur to make that happen made it extraordinarily impactful. You would hear stories about how people might hold onto these mementos for their entire career.
Saying “thank you” to your team is something all of us could stand to do more of, and while I am usually in favor of face to face communication as opposed to all others, this is one instance where the written word may be even more powerful than the face to face pat on the back. Given technology, I don’t think it is even necessary to hand out a physical letter, I think the e-mail is fine.
Here is what I propose for all of us:
Continue to say “thank you” – You should still regularly say thank you to your team members for a job well done. It’s empowering for them, encourages the right behavior and it’s just plain polite.
Make it special - You don’t want to be sending a “thank you” e-mail or letter out constantly, otherwise they would lose their impact. I wouldn’t send them out more than once every month or more.
Get specific –. You want to call out specifically what you are thanking them for. There are three areas to focus on; when they go above and beyond the call of duty, when they step up in a special situation, and what personal characteristic you can always rely on them to have. Of the three, it is this last one that has the most impact. The longer they have demonstrated the trait and the more people that have been impacted by it, the better.
24 hour rule – The “thank you” letter has to be timely. If you find yourself more than a day later than the specific example you are using occurred, then it is best to wait until next time. Remember that you aren’t sending these out all of the time, so they need to be done right.
Just because we don’t use “snail mail” regularly and e-mail is one of the least effective communication tools, doesn’t mean you can’t leverage these things to great effect in specific cases. I would say that a “thank you” letter would be one of those. Send a few out to your team and be the judge yourself, but I see little in the way of downside.
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