The Importance of a Well-Placed Thank You Four Ways to Make It Meaningful
Many years ago I was working at a restaurant. One night in particular was incredibly busy, and when we closed down the owner was waiting for us. As we left, he gave each one of us a heartfelt, “Thank you for working hard today,” and handed every employee a $20 bill. I will never forget how appreciated I felt that night.
I have often wondered why his simple gesture made such a lasting impression on me that even twenty years later, I remember the feeling I had that night. What made his thank you stand out to me over so many other thanks I have received? I think it’s because it was a personal, well-placed thank you.
Today, I want to talk to you about how we can make an impact with the gratitude we show to those we lead. Specifically, I want to discuss what makes a well-placed thank you?
I am a big proponent of appreciating people all the time, from small gestures they make to big tasks they complete. However, as leaders we must be looking for opportunities to make our thank you’s have a greater effect. Here are a few ideas to turn your thank you into a well-placed thank you. You don’t need to combine all four of these to make it lasting. Just use these ideas as guides to enhance your appreciation. Endeavor to make your thanks you’s…
Gratitude is well-placed when it follows an extraordinary act. We can say thank you to many small acts that are done for us, and we should. However when someone really goes out of their way to serve the team, serve us, or serve others, this is a time to truly express our thanks. The challenge may rise when everyone worked hard that day—including the leaders—meaning, many times at the end of a long shift, I too am exhausted and don’t have the emotional or physical energy to adequately show my gratitude. But much like the restaurant owner demonstrated to me, especially in the chaotic moments of leadership, we must remember to say thank you.
Second, a well-placed thank you is expressed soon after the act has been done. Waiting a few days or weeks doesn’t leave as great an impact. As a doctor, I remember one of my supervisors who practiced this effectively. When there were days I worked especially hard and we took care of many patients, he would text me that evening on his personal time to say, “Thank you so much for your hard work.” On those evenings, I knew that he cared about me and appreciated when I worked hard and gave extra effort.
I certainly did not expect the owner of the restaurant to be standing by waiting to say thank you on that busy night. It was totally unexpected. After all, I was just doing my job. But that was part of what added to the impact—the unexpected. Recently at one of our clinics, we had an employee who had to leave the company because of her schooling. She wrote me and two other managers a thank you note. Her gesture was simple, but unexpected. She didn’t have to do that; she may never work with our company again. But she left an impression on us. Her discipline of gratitude will serve her well in life.
Finally, a well-placed thank you is one that goes beyond words. A couple of years ago, I invited my team to attend a conference with me. A few weeks later, those who had accompanied me gave me three framed thank you notes with quotes from the speakers engraved on the sides of the frame. Their creative thoughtfulness is something I will not soon forget.
A thank you shows that we value and honor people. I encourage you to take a moment today to increase your efforts to express appreciation to the people you lead. I hope you will be inspired to intentionally create well-placed thank you’s.
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