The Gift of Thank You

Everyone loves receiving gifts. Most of us enjoy giving them; just look at how much we spend purchasing gifts for others on holidays or other special occasions. Few people, however, realize one of the greatest gifts that can be given in the workplace is also free. That gift is a simple thank you.


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Of course, there are different kinds of thank you’s. There are the sort of obligatory thank you’s said when someone holds a door, shares information, or does something else nice for us. Many times these are said without really thinking about them. To really be a gift, a thank you must mean something. Here are some tips for making thank you more meaningful:

  • Be Specific – don’t just say “thanks,” let the person you are thanking know you are paying attention by telling them what was good about whatever they did and why you appreciate it.

  • Put It in Writing – some companies have formal recognition programs that require official comment cards, others are more flexible. If no official form is needed, consider investing in some personal thank you postcards to use. Choose postcards because they can easily be posted to bulletin or memo boards. Consider making a copy of the thank you note for the person’s supervisor/manager/employer, if that person is not you. If you are the employer or manager and there is a supervisor between you and the employee, be sure to give a copy of the note to that supervisor. Depending what you are thanking the person for, you may also want to provide a copy to the human resources person or department (if there is one) to be included in their employment record.

  • Share Quantifiable Information – if you are thanking the individual for something that resulted in quantifiable results, either internally or externally, include the results in the thank you. If no results are available, don’t let that stop you from thanking the person immediately, just be sure to provide the quantifiable results when they are available. Further, if the results impacted other areas of the business, include as much information as possible about that impact and why it is important to both you and the company as a whole.

  • Do It Yourself – handwrite and deliver the thank you note yourself, preferably into the hand of the individual you are thanking.

  • Celebrate Success Publicly – this is especially important and appropriate if the person is being thanked for work on a high profile project or their work has impacted, either directly or indirectly, a large number of people.

The idea of recognizing and rewarding employees is hardly a new one. In this age of declining courtesy, saying thank you takes on added significance because people no longer expect being thanked in the normal course of things. It also indicates a personal connection between the person doing the thanking, usually someone in a position of authority, and the person being thanked, which is very important in motivating and engaging employees at all levels. It is the unexpected nature and the personal connection that makes a simple thank you one of the greatest gifts that can be given in the workplace.

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