We know that appreciation and acknowledgement of those who help us is important in all aspects of our lives, and yet in the workplace we struggle with gratitude the most.  Do you say thank you for the obvious – “thanks for coming in on time?”  If you thank one person, do you need to thank the one sitting next to them too?  Do I need to write a thank you note?  Does there need to be some sort of reward to go with it too?

In some workplaces, appreciation is so rare that people wonder if anyone sees/cares about their hard work.  On the other end of the spectrum, you have managers who say thank you so often that it can becomes meaningless or appears inauthentic.

Meaningful appreciation and recognition includes the following characteristics:

  1. Informal – doesn’t need to be written or part of the “employee of the month”
  2. Timely – as soon as possible after the help has been received
  3. Unexpected – super powerful when people don’t expect to hear from you
  4. Personalized – what did they specifically contribute) that was helpful?
  5. Genuine – feel/convey the gratitude when you express your appreciation – don’t just say it to say it
  6. Verbal is ideal, as well as face to face (tone and body language speaks volumes) – though timely is more important, so if you can’t see the person within 24 hours of the impact of their help, then use another mode of communication
  7. And lastly and most importantly Say What it Meant to you – so often we simply say “Thank you!” or via text (when it’s apparently not even worth spelling out) “Thx!”  I too am guilty of this with friends and family.  But when it comes to work relationships where bonds may not be as strong or intent not as clear, it’s important to take the time to say what it meant to you (or the company) to have their help.  Express the impact of their contribution.  Here are some examples…Thank you:
    • You made my whole day
    • Because you dealt with that issue, it made it possible for me to have uninterrupted time to finish a critical project that’s been on my plate
    • Because you went above and beyond to meet the deadline early, the client was thrilled and referred us another one which means we’ll meet our sales goals for the week
    • Because you stayed late, it meant I could go see my daughter’s soccer game, she was so happy to see me in the stands
    • Your leadership and integrity in this situation has meant that we won’t lose such a key account
    • Because you figured out this problem we’re able to truly move forward on the new product line that will give our company an incredible strategic advantage

So right now, take off of your “to do” list that thank you note you’ve been meaning to write, walk over to who you want to acknowledge, with gratitude in your heart look them in the eye, thank them and express the impact of their help.

And no, it doesn’t need to be accompanied by a gift card (this can sometimes even cheapen the contribution made by the individual.)

Real deal appreciation trumps a gift card every time.