Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
This is so obvious I wonder why, as CEO, I needed four or five years of saying Thank you to those around me before I understood that my Thank you would have more meaning if I invested a few moments in thanking each person for the specifics of why and how they mattered so much.
Growing up in the South the manners of saying Please and Thank you and addressing adults as Mr. and Miss or Mrs. were well-entrenched by the time I was five.
Too often with good habits we forget their meaning or we sleep-walk through their practice. So it was with saying Thank you. My habit, my knee jerk response, of saying Thank you was nice, charming. That made it all about me.
My first steps to include them in my thanks were almost as painful as a child’s first steps on a concrete sidewalk. Seeing their awkwardness at my feeble attempts, bruising my ego, and sitting in my office stewing over my good intent and my bad execution highlighted those first steps.
Write: I solved that by writing an email, offering specific details as well as thanks for each one.Once I saw the affect, I made that practice a habit.
Practice: Then I expanded this practice to in-person recognitions. I wrote the specifics down first and practiced the words once or twice. That worked even better.
We both smiled, relaxed our shoulders, uncrossed our arms and leaned forward. Our conversations always expanded to include ideas and, yes, complaints and good moments and most importantly suggestions on what we could do better. That makes for a very good day.
String a few of those together, back-to-back, and you have a good week.
String a few of those weeks together, back-to-back, and you have a good month.
You see where I'm going...String a few of these months together and you have a great quarter, a few quarters and you have a great year. It all starts with a simple step, affordable, scalable step.
Headsup: Some of us feel awkward with deserved praise, given or received. Making this a daily habit will help erase that awkwardness. You may also be in an environment where this type of recognition could 'unsettle' others, threatening their sense of control.
To that I say: Tough. They, we, need to be unsettled. But, you can speak that tough love in a language they'll love. Ask them, ask yourself:
Would you object if we reached our goals faster, if our employee turnover declined and our hiring costs declined too? Would you object if everyone showed more enthusiasm and offered more ideas and...discretionary effort...and those generated high close ratios and lower customer churns, grew our revenues faster and lowered our costs? Because that's what happens when you recognize people.
Recognize specifics. Thank them for specifics.
This was one of the 52 ways I included in my first book on Employee Engagement.
On the sidebar of this site are links to free samples of the introduction and the first category of ways to recognize your employees.