From the Archive: The incredible importance of “Thank you”

Saying thank you is an important management and leadership skill.
Saying thank you is an important management and leadership skill.

I am taking some time off for the Thanksgiving Holiday. So I selected this post from earlier in the year. 
My friend Paul Hebert and I frequently disagree on issues surrounding engagement and motivation. When Paul leaves a comment on a blog post I pay attention. He is one smart guy who has been specializing in those subjects for a long time. He disagreed on some of my post from the other day, Are Employee Service Awards really necessary today? and he made some very strong points.

Service awards are more than awards

Paul said in his comments (which can be read here) that we should not devalue service awards. He says “Only saying thank you because someone stays more than 3, or 4, or even 5 years is the wrong way to look at service anniversaries.” He further says “Why would it ever make sense to not say thank you to the 30% that do stay (from your stats)? That kind of recognition would reinforce the value the company places on loyalty and possibly impact others.” I actually agree with Paul on this, service awards as a way to say “thank you” is an important use of them. You can read my comments back to him. I don’t think service awards drive employee engagement the way many executives would like to think and I don’t think Paul does either, but we see eye-to-eye on the value of saying thanks. The nice thing is that management guru legend Tom Peters also agrees.

Saying thank you as strategy

Tom Peters, in his book The Little BIG Things, feels that saying the words “thank you” is “The rarest (and most powerful) of gifts.” He further says “Recognition for contributions or support is of inestimable value in cementing relationships – and inducing future contributions and work-of-mouth support.” AND it must be done every day, several times a day!
He also wants us to be very generous with our “thank you”s . When you say thank you to someone for their work generally they had help from someone else. Peters says you should thank them as well. He says “Recognition and inclusion of ‘support’ members of a team, no matter how indirect, has multiplicative value when it comes to getting things done – perhaps nothing is of greater import.
By the way, Peters thinks that saying “thank you” is a learnable and measurable skill. To help make it a habit he says measure it. Start noticing the changes in behavior and results. He feels that it will make a huge impact on your organization.
Thank you Paul Hebert for this inspiration!

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