When I first started managing people and communities, I was hesitant about showing gratitude for people’s achievements. I didn’t want to say “Thank you” because I was worried that showing my gratitude would somehow make people complacent. I learned the hard way that it has the opposite affect.
I stopped ignoring people’s achievements long ago, but lately, I’ve been hearing some of my friends complain that their managers never recognize them for their achievements either. These managers tend to be untrained and young, with just a hint of job insecurity to keep them on their toes. But refusing to give other people credit makes your team/community complacent and convinces them not to put emotional weight on their work. I can’t think of a worse fate for a managerial relationship.
I started thinking more about sharing the importance of saying “Thank you” in large and tiny ways when I posted a comment on the 99u piece, “The 5 Most Dangerous Creativity Killers”. I said in my comment:
“Not being recognized for a huge achievement (in reference to reason #5) is a HUGE creativity killer. That person will immediately think, why bother? Then they’ll dedicate their creative energy to something else entirely. And if they don’t think it immediately, it’ll still slowly start to seep in over time. Recognize good work, even in small ways like sending a quick ‘You’re awesome’ or ‘Thank you!’ email, tweet, LinkedIn note, etc.”
I didn’t realize until a week ago that this ended up becoming the most upvoted comment on the post, and I think that fact says a lot about the importance that employees and community members place on appreciation. It’s hard to be inspired when you’re not recognized — even the best of us experience moments of crushing self-doubt. Our inner selves are constantly playing devil’s advocate. So we need an outside push every so often to say that we’re doing better than we imagine.
So I propose that all managers (and all community managers especially) say thank you constantly for reasons others would probably never think of. Say it with swag, say it with an e-mail, say it with a Tweet. Just say thank you. Here are some ways to thank your employees and community members. Believe me, everyone wants to feel appreciated. Share the love.
When someone accomplishes a small task, pitches in to the community you’re nurturing, or does something for the first time (i.e. when my associate ran a VLOOKUP for the first time or wrote his first blog post):
- Write them a LinkedIn recommendation (endorsements are for the birds) that is thoughtful and specific based on that experience
- Follow them on Twitter. Mention them and just shout out a quick, “Can’t believe how quickly you finished writing that newsletter! You’re awesome!”
- Write them an endorsement that they can use on their website or in their portfolio (if they have one). If you don’t know if they have one, ask!
- Shoot them a quick e-mail to tell them how amazing they did and just to say you appreciated their work.
- Give them concrete metrics to stand behind (i.e. “Your post garnered 1,030 views and generated a discussion of 100+ comments that directly and indirectly related to our brand. You, my friend, are a superstar.”)
- Recognize firsts, especially if you watched this person struggled to get to that point. Knowing that you appreciate that work will encourage them to continue that type of work/behavior in the future.
- Handwritten notes are always nice. Even a post-it note may turn into a cubicle decoration. At my last job, I kept all of the post-its my co-workers left me and would look at them when I was doubting myself.
- If the person doesn’t work with you, send them swag! Everyone loves swag, but, more than that, everyone loves to feel like they’re part of something. Swag does that. Make it easy and cheap like stickers or notebooks.
There are so many ways to say “thank you”. Find your own way to say thank you that fits your style. It’s not that important how you say it. It’s just important that you say it.
Looking for more ideas? Read some other enlightening articles on the topic:
- “What to do when recognition never comes” via Savvy Intern
- “How to Show Appreciation at Work” via Kommboutique
- “Showing Appreciation at the Office? No Thanks” via Wall Street Journal
- “Innovative Ways to Show Customer Appreciation” via B2C