#tbt – The most effective tool for managers…and the most underutilized

21 Jan


A throwback to a blog post from May 4th of last year on a simple tool for motivating employees. Enjoy.

We have written about gratitude on the 5 for 5 blog previously, but this post is about the power in a simple “Thank you”. I’m not sure why I started thinking about that this week but it really began to bother me this week. For one, I have fallen off the wagon myself. The cult of busy is a sorry excuse for not letting someone how much you appreciate them, and in the past few weeks it has been an unacceptable excuse.

But I was also thinking about times during my career as a manager how much it meant to people to be recognized, publically and privately, for big things and little ones….a well timed thank you can be a rocket booster to  someone’s week.

So why don’t managers turn to this tool more often….I’m sure busy would be a top answer. But I believe many managers will not allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to send a thank you note (as if saying thank you could somehow compromise your position). Some feel that they don’t want to create entitlement in employees. Some think the task was too small or too long ago or outside of the team’s scope.

I am sure there are many more excuses (I mean reasons) why managers aren’t saying thank you more. So what can you do? Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

  • Make a commitment to send out at least five thank you’s per week. I know your anxiety level is rising…..no act is too small to say thank you whether verbal, electronic or written.
  • Make the feedback timely. It is frustrating to send something week’s after the fact, unless you are seeing the benefit of the person’s work then.
  • Keep it short and sweet. “Tweet-size” works, but if you keep it short, please consider:
    • Actually say “Thank you”; not “Thx” or “Thanks” or “TY”. Take the extra three seconds and type it all out.
    • Actually reference, with some detail, what the person did.
    • Even better, tell them “why” it mattered – this helps to connect the dots and reinforce behaviors you want to see the person apply in the future
    • Send a written note if you can, but at a minimum, send it yourself; do not make your assistant send it out.
  • NOTE: Please don’t hesitate to send a thank you note to someone more senior than yourself. Get over thee resistance to feel as if this is sucking up. Along with the “Thank You”, tell them what you learned through their help.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but it is certainly an act that will let your team know that there work is making a difference and will let them know you are paying attention to their work, even if you can’t say it everytime.

So thank you for reading this post. By reading these blogs, I hope to share ideas that can help you and your team grow.  And even better, when you share I know it was something that made an impact on you. <- See that wasn’t so hard…one down, four to go.

Here are this week’s additional 5 for 5 articles:

Marcus Buckingham: Four Seismic Shifts in Employee Engagement – by Kayte K – via the Survey Monkey Blog

Ten questions for work that matters – by Seth Godin – via @thisissethsblog

Strategy and Execution Are the Same Thing – by Roger Martin – via Harvard Business Review

What Makes People Do Good? – by Lily Clausen – via Stanford Graduate School of Business

How To Focus: 5 Research-Backed Secrets To Concentration – by Eric Barker – via Barking Up the Wrong Tree Blog

all the best, kevin