Two little words: “thank you”

Have you remembered to thank someone at work this week?

When you think of feedback at work, you tend to think about formal processes around performance evaluation, constructive criticism and development points. Not that being evaluated and learning about what you can do better is necessarily a bad thing, because it isn’t. But we tend to overlook the importance of recognition and praise, and a simple "thank you".

The simplest form of recognition is taking the time to say thank you to a colleague for their efforts or support. This costs nothing and there is pretty much no downside. As recognition programmes get more sophisticated there are usually more costs involved, and more thought needs to go into the execution. How do people want to be recognised? They probably don’t all want to be recognised in the same way. How much is the right amount? Recognition is a very valuable tool for managers, and it’s important to make sure that it incentivises employees and doesn’t make them feel awkward. A “one size fits all” award can make the recognition feel a little perfunctory, so a personal touch to the award can make it more meaningful. For example, vouchers are a great way of giving the employee the ability to reward themselves as they feel fit; or with a little effort and imagination, a really tailored award can make a real difference – such as tickets for a sports event for a sports lover.

If you are not sure what someone would appreciate, just ask! There’s no better way to find out what makes your employees tick. Compensation and benefits is an area where you can consult an expert to find the program that works for your business, your employees and your tax planning. But back to the underlying value of recognition, regardless of its forms - what does it really mean to people?

Recognition is a pillar of any employee’s job satisfaction. Here are some illustrations of the power of those two little words, and what can happen when people don’t feel valued in the workplace:

  • Mattel’s former CEO Robert A Eckert talks about their Rave Reviews program, Chairman’s Award and Mattel being named one of Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For for six years running. Key lessons are:
  1. Set aside time every week to acknowledge good work
  2. Handwrite thank you notes
  3. Punish in private, praise in public
  4. “Don’t tell me. Tell my boss”
  5. Foster a culture of gratitude.
  1. Check out their Red Chainsaw Award: “You’re part of a team, but you’re an individual too”.
  2. “When your employees feel more like associates, that management genuinely recognizes their contributions to the organization, and that they are vital members of a team working toward a goal, they feel like the company is more than just a place to work.”

So don’t forget to reward your colleagues – before your competitor does!

Next week, I will be looking at holidays, otherwise known as annual leave or vacation. How can you make sure you can really switch off before you take off?

Until next week!