People know I’m in the “thank you” business. It’s my job (and my pleasure) to help organizations get better at expressing appreciation for the efforts of their employees.
Because people know my line of work, I’m often asked about my opinion on the handwritten thank-you note.
I’m of two opinions. In personal life, it’s appropriate and quite thoughtful to send a handwritten, detailed thank you note. In the world of business however, handwritten thank you notes present several challenges.
1) It doesn’t scale. A CEO may believe strongly in the power of the handwritten thank you note. And there is no denying the impact receiving such a note has for the employee. Yet as a business grows, the CEO cannot write enough thank you notes to derive the benefit he or she is seeking. And no matter how firmly the CEO tries to institute the practice among managers, some simply will not write the notes and others will try but fail.
Strategic recognition using a technology-based solution, on the other hand, makes it possible for the CEO to set desired parameters (such as demonstration of the company values as the reason for recognition) and then encourage all employees – managers and peers – to recognize those desired behaviors and achievements in their colleagues. This is far easier to scale.
2) It isn’t trackable or reportable. The handwritten note also does not allow for tracking of the giving and receiving of appreciation across the organization on a broader scale. When an employee is recognized for demonstrating the value of “innovation” for example, that can be tracked. If all recognition is tracked, management can gain – for the first time – deep insight into the understanding of the values across the organization and intervene when necessary.
My colleague Ben Miele explained this quite well last week when discussing the revelation at a client that R&D employees were being frequently recognized for “achieving results” but rarely recognized for “risk-taking” – precisely the opposite of desired behaviors in that department!
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3) It isn’t visible and therefore shareable. Perhaps the greatest benefit of an online strategic recognition solution is the option to share the recognition via secure Social Recognition across the organization’s network. This allows other employees to see and view the recognition, adding their additional “congratulations” and expressions of appreciation. This ability endlessly amplifies recognition.
Many organizations also have structures in place to notify managers of recognition given or for approvals at higher levels. Employees like this feature as they know their managers – possibly all the way to the CEO – see the recognition they have received.
What’s your take on the thank you note? When was the last time you received an expression of thanks – either in your personal life or at work?