We know we want to build a culture where our employees feel safe (personally), have autonomy, gain mastery, and have pretty much the same values as their colleagues and leadership. A lot goes into building and actively managing such a culture. One simple thing is — thanks. The open and frequent public acknowledgment of a well-made decision upholds the corporate values and encourages employees to do good work.
My sense of things is that in the day-to-day “busyness” we find ourselves in, we often forget that simple “thanks” can mean so much to ourselves and others. There are many ways to acknowledge a person or team for their contribution. One way I like (but find difficult) is the simple handwritten
note to say “Thank You” for a specific job/decision well done. As an aside, I find hand written notes to be difficult because my handwriting and spelling are terrible, so I have become dependent on technology (Thank You, MS Office, G-mail, WordPress, Grammarly, and MailChimp!). I might be too hard on myself, yet my belief is I am doing you a favor by not handwriting a note — at least not in cursive! I have taken the time to handprint — in my best engineering block letters — a message, and I suspect that it is just as good as a neatly written cursive note. Since I’m confessing, I will admit I often type things out in Word to make sure of the spelling before printing the message. And I’m told that the young people (Millennials) have a hard time reading (and many haven’t been taught) cursive handwriting. So printing makes more sense.
Find Ways to Say Thanks
Another easy and very effective way to get across our appreciation is to make a simple statement in staff meetings or project meetings. We have to be a bit careful about singling out people for praise unless we believe we know who is contributing. That shouldn’t be an excuse, just a caution to make sure we don’t leave out key players who aren’t as visible.
In my mind, the most critical function of a true leader is to build and actively manage the culture — the values, vision, and mission — of the organization. We should be focused on the proper integration of new employees and be the corporate culture guardians. I like a culture of appreciation, gratitude, and thanks. And what could be more fun, exciting, and essential than building such a culture?
[Updated 9/16/2017 and Lightly edited in 9/2020 for our new website.]