The Power of "Thank You"
Who doesn't love to feel appreciated? We all crave that little acknowledgment that says our efforts are valued. Indeed, the Gallup organization has found that recognition for a job well done is one of the top five things that employees value OVER salary.
While saying "thanks" when passing a colleague in the hall is technically showing appreciation, effective leaders invest a little more effort in letting others know the importance of their work. In Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, Jack Canfield relates a story in which an employee that he really did value pointed out to him that he was working in ways that didn't demonstrate that appreciation to his staff. Consequently, he set himself a reminder to change that perception by acknowledging, in writing, five employees per day.
As a woman raised in the South (meaning, the southeastern United States), hospitality practices have been imprinted on my soul. My Grannie and my Mother each have drawers full of notecards for any possible occasion, not to mention a sizable cache of blank cards and monogrammed stationery.
While I may not thank five people per day as Canfield did, I do write notes weekly to let individuals in my organization know that they are appreciated. Whether that be for a gesture that impacted me directly, or something that supported our team, I want the people I work with to know that I am grateful for their contribution, time, energy, expertise, and connection. In a school setting, a nice way to model gratitude is by writing a note addressed to an entire class.
For example, this semester I joined a class for their morning circle and my student partner was so engaging and welcoming. I wrote a note to the class thanking them for their openness and named that child specifically for his willingness to partner with me for the discussion portion of the circle.
Last week, I wanted to acknowledge a colleague I've known for years for his effectiveness in communicating difficult information during a parent meeting. The basket on my desk (pictured above) served as a reminder to me two days afterward, "Don't forget to write that note to Mr. C."
While an email is nice, I think that little extra effort shown with a handwritten message makes people feel very special. That you took the time in the midst of a busy day to write resonates with people in our high tech/low touch world.
Take action to prioritize valuing your colleagues today. Set a 15-minute block in your calendar to write two notes. Buy a pack of colorful notecards and set them near your desk as a reminder to say "I appreciate you."