Good Stuff Happens: Why Your Organization Needs a Thank You Habit

I was doing a series of leadership workshops last week and one of the things we talked about was creating a thank you habit in the organization.

What I mean by a “Thank You Habit” is to make it known to everyone that the organization wants to acknowledge good work, and make it clear that the executives want to be informed when good work happens, so they can personally say thank you.

This in itself builds good will, and a helps build a culture of trust.

Create a process for recognition

I don’t think organizations are necessarily stingy with saying thank you; the problem is that good stuff happens all the time and you don’t know about it.

Everybody’s busy, people travel, people are in different sites, so great work happens all the time and you just don’t see it. All you need to do is create a simple process for any individual in any location to feed a suggestion for recognition of a peer up the management chain.

Make it personal

Commit that when a thank you request comes in, an executive will personally say thank you to the individual, whether that is by a drop-in, a phone call, or a handwritten note (notice I did not say email).

The more personal the thank you is, the more value it has.

If an executive goes to an individual and recognizes the good work personally, not only does the individual feel great, but everyone in the group is left saying “Wow, they actually know what we do here!”

It costs nothing

Many organizations over-engineer their recognition programs and it becomes a exercise in spreadsheets and gift certificates.

If you have a reward system in place, that’s fine, but don’t forget about the personal part — the part that takes more time and trouble, but costs nothing.

Make a genuine connection with someone who has done something you appreciate and let them know.

Act on the Thank You

We all fall victim to appreciating things people do for us and never saying anything.

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I have a far from perfect record on this myself. But I find that it helps to create a task for yourself that turns into a habit — when you feel gratitude or apprecation, always say so. So finally…

Thank You!

I am very honored that so many people read my blog and my book, and share it with others. THANK YOU.

I am very grateful for those of you that hire me to come and speak to your group or work with your team. THANK YOU.

And I am very thankful for all the kind words, feedback, and ideas you share with me. Thank you all.

And to those of you in the United States,

Happy Thanksgiving!

This was originally published on Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. Her latest book is Rise: How to be Really Successful at Work and LIKE Your Life.

Patty Azzarello is the founder and CEO of Azzarello Group. She's also an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/business advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35, and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk). You can find her at patty@azzarellogroup.com .

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2 Comments on “Good Stuff Happens: Why Your Organization Needs a Thank You Habit

  1. Patty, this is great, simple advice. I love your line:  “Many organizations over-engineer their recognition programs and it becomes an exercise in spreadsheets and gift certificates.”

    I think it’s too easy to get into the mind-set that we need something elaborate for it to be effective. Not true – just like in our personal lives, it’s the time, recognition, and appreciation that we give one another that create the foundation of the relationship.

    Not long after I started a new job, the CEO stopped by my desk just to say a very sincere thank you for what I had already contributed to the company. You can bet that I was even more motivated to continue the same and more. And it opened the door to having an open-door relationship with the CEO as well. That little gesture made a huge difference in my work life and the benefits the company received from my efforts, as well. Very much a win-win!

    Great post; thanks for sharing!

  2. Great advice Patty. I think it’s important to highlight the “personal” aspect of the thank you – as you mentioned, email isn’t on the list of personal ways to say thank you. It’s amazing what a simple thank you can do for someone in the workplace. 

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