The power of ‘thanks’

employee engagement / Saturday, March 24th, 2018

How do we recognise the achievements of our people?  

The temptation is to engineer some vastly complicated recognition scheme, which ends up taking so long to administer that we’ve all forgotten what we’re recognising by the time we get around to it.  

So, I’m suggesting a much simpler approach… Just saying ‘thank you’. 

A ‘thank you’ in person, from a member of the senior team, engages our people in a different way to an annual awards ceremony. It shows that they have been noticed. That their contribution matters. And that they’re being recognised for a particular piece of work or achievement. It’s also timely and personal, and means that a member of the senior team has taken the time out of their busy working day to recognise you personally. 

Whilst we may want to bring out all the bells and whistles for our peoples’ achievements, the reality is that we are often constrained by budget and practicality. I think, rather than making a tokenistic gesture (which can backfire spectacularly, as Tesco found out when they rewarded staff with a £1.52 canteen voucher for battling through the recent snow storms to get to work), a simple and heartfelt ‘thank you’ makes our people feel far more valued.   

As with many issues around organisational culture, our Line Managers are on the front line (I’m going to return to the role of Line Managers within internal communications in a future blog post). They are the conduit between our people and senior managers. They should be the first to notice what our people are doing, and can be empowered to notice where a more senior ‘thank you’ is deserved.  

We should be promoting a culture of ‘thanks’, where Line Managers and senior teams alike are confident in thanking their people for going the extra mile. 

One note of caution, though – the thank you should be meaningful and personal. It should mark an extra effort, additional work, or going beyond the call of duty. It needs to have impact, meaning, and to be authentic. 

Simply saying ‘thank you’ puts a consistent emphasis on recognising our people. It goes beyond one annual event to the day-to-day work of the organisation. It also gives us a great opportunity to reiterate the values and messages of an annual recognition event across the year – strengthening these messages about the value our people bring and demonstrating them in a very real way. 

Do you have a culture of thanks? How can we, as internal comms professionals, help to drive this in our organisations?

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