This article is the third in a series on expressing gratitude and appreciation at work. The ideas shared are relevant for leaders, aspiring leaders, and anyone interested in generosity and humanity at work. See links to other articles in the series at the end of this post (and at the blog).
Your people are working hard. Times are challenging. And they are digging in and producing good work. You want to acknowledge this and thank them for their efforts. Specifically, you want to thank them individually for more impact. But you aren’t quite sure what to say.
“Thank you for your good work,” is okay. It’s better than not saying thank you at all. But is there a better way to say this?
Indeed there is! If you’ve been reading the earlier articles in this series, you know that expressing appreciation to people at work (and in life) can go a long way. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be in person. But it should be meaningful.
Here are three tips to make it more meaningful.
#1 Be Specific About What You’ve Noticed and Appreciated:
A generic thank you isn’t quite as powerful as one that is more custom to the person and specific.
So, ‘thanks, great job’ is fine, but you can add a little more substance to this by sharing more specifically what you’ve noticed and what you appreciate.
“Thank you Marcel for your work on this proposal. I know you worked very hard on this. I like how you made it so easy to read. I also know that you had to jump through some hoops to get all the data in on time for the research section. I appreciate your effort on this. Well done!”
Wow. Imagine how Marcel will feel about these words of appreciation vs. the rote ‘hey thanks, great job’ version.
#2 Acknowledge the Person and Not Just the Outcome:
When people do good work (like Marcel did in the example above), it’s an ideal time to not only express appreciation for the outcome and their effort, but also for who the person was being that contributed to the outcome.
So in the earlier example, thanking Marcel for jumping through hoops would be an example of this and that it wasn’t only about the outcome of the report being easy to read.
And we can even take this further….by attaching the effort and outcome to the person’s character strengths, skills, and virtues.
So, something like this:
“Marcel, I really appreciate the effort you made on this proposal. You jumped through hoops, to get the data in on time. And your creativity and good judgment really showed up in how you made the report so easy to read. Your ‘make-it-happen’ resourcefulness once again shined through. Thank you for all that!”
So now Marcel is really feeling appreciated. Not only for his effort on this proposal, but also for his character strengths like: hard work, creativity, good judgment, and resourcefulness. He feels seen, appreciated as a person. These strengths are transferable. They don’t expire after the project is over!
This kind of thank you, wrapped into acknowledgment of the person can help build that person’s self awareness and confidence. Maybe Marcel wasn’t even aware of his strengths (many people aren’t), or he kind of knew them but never put words to them. When someone else calls out our strengths and gives them a name (i.e. make-it-happen resourcefulness) this can really bolster our self awareness and confidence.
So if you are leader and want to help your people grow, use every opportunity to take a strengths-based approach to feedback and expressing thanks.
Here’s one more strategy….
#3 Share the Impact They Had:
Sometimes people feel frustrated with their work because they don’t get a sense of how their efforts make a difference. Perhaps someone is toiling away behind the scenes, like Marcel, but others who might be more front-facing, get to see the impact more directly.
In Marcel’s case, he worked on parts of the proposal (the research and copywriting). But many others contributed to the proposal in different ways. Sharing the impact his contribution made can add additional meaning to the mix. For example, in addition to the examples above, perhaps something like this:
“Marcel, because of your contribution we were able to present to the client much more confidently having this solid proposal to back up our presentation. We have been short-listed now and have a better chance at winning the business. We couldn’t have done this without your good work.”
Morale of the Story:
Of course these are all are simply examples and you can use your own style and language to suit the situation. What’s most important is to make it meaningful by customizing it to the individual; be specific in what you noticed and appreciated; acknowledge the person and not just the outcome; and attach character strengths to the individual to help them gain self awareness and confidence; and finally, share the impact they made.
Here are Links to the Other Articles in the Series:
- Expressing Thanks at Work: Good For You and For Others
- Expressing Thanks at Work: Is it Better in Person or Text?
What do you think?
I welcome your input, ideas, and comments — and questions! If you have more questions, I’d love to hear them and perhaps can add more to the series.
Here’s to creating a more thankful, human, and generous work culture!
Please share this story if you think others would enjoy it!
Eileen Chadnick, PCC, ACPC of Big Cheese Coaching, is an ICF credentialed executive coach, team coach, workshop facilitator, and writer specializing in career navigation, executive and leadership development, culture-building, and communications. Principal of Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications in Toronto, Eileen draws from the disciplines of positivity, emotional intelligence – and Conversational Intelligence®(C‐IQ®) in her work. She is author of the book, Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy. See more at www.bigcheesecoaching.com