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When last did you say thank you?

Stop a moment to reflect – there are 86 400 seconds in a day, and it only takes two seconds to say “thank you”. When last did you say “thank you” to one of your staff or work colleagues – five minutes ago, earlier this morning, yesterday, last week, last month, or it was so long ago you cannot remember?

The holiday season is upon us. CEOs, business leaders and C-suite executives typically use the Christmas party or the coffee and mince pie break before the December close down  to thank their staff for their contribution during the past year. Many also use the annual or bi-annual performance review to do so, but there is often a long, dry white season between saying “thank you” to individuals and staff as a whole.

Saying “thank you” is not a nice to do, simply a matter of good manners – it is a business imperative. Recognition and appreciation drive performance, and inspire team members to go the extra mile, without the expectation of additional financial reward. The ‘’lights go on” when someone feels valued – they want to do more and this translates to better customer service in terms of internal and external customers.

People thrive and prosper when their contribution is acknowledged. Research by Grant and Gino supports this view: “Our research suggests that gratitude expressions may have important theoretical and practical implications for encouraging prosocial behaviours that promote co-operation.”

For people in leadership, saying ‘thank you” is also about thanking colleagues and subordinates for pointing out poor decisions that you have made as a leader –  decisions that were unfair, insensitive or may not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. Although these situations may make leaders feel red-faced and vulnerable, they are opportunities for growth. A “sincere thank you for showing me the way,” and the admission that you were wrong, galvanises teams, builds trust and drives performance.

The year end is also a time for making resolutions. Top of the list for the workplace should be the resolve to say “thank you” more often – “thank you” to the lady who brings you a piping hot cup of tea every morning, the receptionist who puts through your calls, the lady who does your filing. The list is endless.  The results are backed by research – saying “thank you” is tried and tested, it carries a “money back guarantee.”

Reminders are always useful. American essayist, lecturer and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words still hold currency today: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all good things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Will you post these words on your office wall and act upon them in 2017?

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