18 January 2006

How do you say thanks?

How you say thanks to people, reveals so much about the kind of leader you are.

Nobody likes having to rap people on the knuckles, but how you deliver praise for work well done says just as much about you as a leader.

Crushing deadlines, suppliers who don’t deliver and don’t answer their phones, consultants who call in sick – it’s all too much. And yet, thanks to your team, you’ve met your target. Now, how do you say thanks?

  • Go public. We’ve all worked with people who did their praising in private and their scolding in public. One of the easiest ways to build loyalty, confidence and pride in a team is to reverse that.
  • Pass credit on. Someone who delegates a task, has little input in it, then takes the credit for its success will earn a reputation for bad management and bad manners. A simple phrase like “Thanks, Mr Gates, I’d love take the credit for this one, but it was really the folk in catering…”
  • Write it down. In their book The Essential Manager’s Guide, Robert Heller and Time Hindle recommend writing a note of thanks – by hand, rather than emailed or typed. It just adds a personal touch.
  • Get feedback. One of the best ways to thank someone is to ask them for input on how the project can be made easier to complete the next time.
  • Get real. Rather than assuming that your gratitude will be enough, investigate some rewards scheme. An island holiday for the employees and their families would be great, but failing that, a gift voucher will do. Many employees will regard some paid time off as a very real reward.
  • Bookend problems. If a project was imperfectly completed it’s worth beginning by thanking everyone for their efforts and acknowledging that there were difficult circumstances, then outline the problems that occurred and perhaps ask for suggestions on how they can be avoided. Finish up by thanking everyone for their input as well as their efforts on the job.

(William Smook)


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