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All I want is a simple Thank You!

Deep down, most of as human beings, appreciate a sincere thank you. A thank you for the work that we do, the effort we put forward and the results that we have achieved. Yes, it takes more than just that to ultimately engage and retain staff, but a simple thank you is at the heart of any type of employee recognition. If your managers do not understand that this is an important part of their job, you need to get them gripped in ASAP on this.

Thank You SignBased on my time in HR, and after having gone through many employee surveys, focus groups and action plans, I can honestly say that I have seen that employee recognition is at the heart of many engagement challenges. Specifically, most things seem to come back to informal recognition (or lack thereof) that staff receive from their manager.

Regardless of age/generation, role, salary, etc., the majority of employees I have spoken with and have encountered during my career all say pretty much the same thing – that is, “It would be nice to get a thank you every now and then.” Here is the irony: it costs NOTHING to provide that thank you! Funny thing, companies spends thousands on recognition programs and service rewards each year, yet miss the boat on the most fundamental part of recognition which is the 1:1 touchpoint from a manager to an employee, where they simply thank them for their hard work/effort/result.

You have to think of the thank you as building the foundation of your house. Everything else is irrelevant and of no value if you don’t have a solid foundation. I coach and encourage managers to make “thank you’s” a part of their daily management routine. Get out and about and walk around. Look for areas and ways to recognize and say thanks. You will be surprised at how many of these opportunities present themselves in the run of a day when you are actually “looking.” Again, you need to keep the criteria very loose. Anything that falls into the categories of extra effort, results, overall performance, organizational/departmental/individual impact should “qualify” for a thank you.

The challenge here is to change the mindset of your managers. I have personally dealt with many managers whose typically response is, “I don’t thank my employees for just doing their job, that is what they are paid for.” The response to this is simple – yes, you do (need to) thank them for doing their job…that is YOUR job! These little moments of positive reinforce serve to build trust and establish an effective culture. Employees want to know that their manager notices what they are doing. So, as a manager, you looking for those moments of recognition because it is part of your job, therefore, it is incumbent on you as a LEADER to establish this type of culture and provide those moments of thanks to your staff. Get out of your office/cube, talk to your people, observe their work and engage with them. You will be surprised at what is actually going on with your people and just how much is worthy of your time, attention and recognition.

It drives me nuts when a manager sets some artificially high standard that must be achieved before they “thank” their staff for doing something. I mean, what warrants a thank you? Saving a life? A multi-million dollar sale? Are you kidding me? Large scale achievements like these warrant much MORE than a thank you. The daily interactions and micro achievements are what you need to focus on, day in and day out. This is how the managerial foundation is built and this is where you will get your gains as a leader.

Bottom line, let’s all work together to get better at identifying those little moments of recognition.  Let’s make it a point to say “thank you” more. Trust me, it will fit into your budget and your staff will appreciate it. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback…..thank you.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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