There are many situations in the workplace that merit saying “Thank you!” or recognizing something good or exceptional. A customer service representative did a good job of resolving an angry customer’s problem. A work team achieved more than their project goal. A sales person made an unusually large sale or landed a big account. Likely your workplace list of opportunities to engage with and thank employees is long. But you may not realize, how you deliver your workplace thank you can make a big difference in how your recipient perceives your gratitude.
First, recognize the way you say “thank you” should match the reason you are thanking someone. For example, if a coworker made you aware of a big oversight in your project so you could correct it before your boss saw it or it caused a big problem, treating her to lunch would be a good way to show you appreciate her help and discretion. If you noticed your employee doing an exceptional job on inventory control, mentioning it at the next department meeting and thanking him for his diligence provides some public recognition as your way of saying “thank you.”
Importance of Individualizing Your Workplace Thank You
In their book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” Gary Chapman and Paul White explain the importance of understanding how people prefer to be recognized and thanked at work. They report that expressions of appreciation aren’t received well if they aren’t individualized and delivered in the recipient’s preferred “appreciation language”.
Chapman and White define these five languages of appreciation:
- Quality Time – Quality time with someone saying thank you is preferred over gifts or public recognition.
- Tangible Gifts – Tangible gifts such as an engraved plaque or an award trophy are preferred to have something to display as proof and demonstration of recognition.
- Words of Affirmation – Words of affirmation such as public thank you’s at meetings or acknowledgement in front of peers is the preferred way to be thanked.
- Physical Touch – Physical touch such as a warm handshake or pat on the back make recipients feel welcomed and included.
- Acts of Service – Acts of service such as a coworker offering to help out with reports as appreciation for help with a deadline project are a preferred by recipients over gifts or other forms of recognition.
Understanding and using a recipient’s preferred method of appreciation is a good way to deliver your workplace thank you so it is most meaningful and memorable to that person.
Deliver Your Workplace Thank You with Specifics
One of the best practices for workplace thank you’s described in the Bersin & Associates research report The State of Employee Recognition in 2012 is to recognize specific results and behaviors when saying thank you. Delivering a workplace thank you in passing, such as “thanks for the extra effort” isn’t as meaningful or memorable. Explain why you are saying thank you, or better yet, tell a story. “The extra time you took with one of our biggest customers last week impressed them so much they’ve tripled their order for next month. Thank you so much. That’s the kind of effort we wish we could get from every one of our employees for every one of our customers.”
Share Your Workplace Gratitude Regularly
Research shows regularly practicing gratitude at work has been shown in to create better working relationships, work environments and improving the bottom line. Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, along with Michael McCullogh, University of Miami psychologist, studied the effects of gratitude. They found that gratitude practiced regularly produces measurable physical, psychological, and interpersonal benefits.
To learn more about the remarkable impact of gratitude in the workplace and how to create a culture of appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Workplace Gratitude”.
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