6 ways to say ‘Thank You’

Investors in People (IiP) have just published their annual ‘Job exodus trends’.

It makes essential reading for managers – though brace yourselves, it’s not pretty. Here’s a few headlines:

  • 77% are stressed of respondents at work
  • Over half are looking for another job
  • 24% are unhappy at work

The point that really stood out for me is the importance of a simple ‘Thank You’: “6 years into this research and we’re still hearing that people want to be told ‘thank you’.

Seems it’s a rare thing, which is a pity. What’s more, it’s not exactly a huge undertaking, is it? So if you’re one of the ‘ungrateful’ managers, try some of these ways to say Thank You.

1. Just say Thank You

Obvious, but as the IIP evidence shows, all too rare. A simple ‘Thanks for that’ might suffice. I think it’s important to be specific about what the person has done to merit thanks, rather than just yelling ‘Awesome!’ Even better, say something about how the person did whatever you’re thanking them for. This not only shows you’ve noticed, but also reinforces the behaviour your colleague can do more often.

2. Describe the impact

Your colleagues may sometimes need to get the bigger picture. When you say ‘Thank You’ describe the impact of what they did, whether it was delighting a tricky client or helping a new hire grasp how things are done around here.

3. Ask your boss to say Thanks

If one or some of your team has done a great job, try asking your boss to thank them. It just might make their day – both your boss’s and your team members’.  Think about it: all too often managing upwards can be about haggling over workloads and deadlines, so giving your manager a thoroughly positive job to do makes a pleasant change for both of you.

4. Thank a colleague’s manager

In the same vein as giving good news to your own boss, if a colleague in another team has helped out or done a stellar job, make sure their manager is aware of it. Avoid being mistaken for a creep by being specific: what the person did, how they did it and the impact of their effort.

5. Make it personal

A hand-written note is, these days, a rare thing. It’s also a good thing, as it’s tangible and shows you’ve taken a little more effort than just firing off another email. Stick to the what, how and the impact of the effort that’s earned your thanks.

6. Try a team trophy

Get a big trophy – many charity shops sell old ones – and at the next team meeting, give it to the team member who most deserves a big ‘Thank You’. Then at the next team meeting, you can step back and let the initial winner nominate who gets the trophy (and why). Record the good deeds of each trophy winner.

A few suggestions:

  • Check your biases – are you paying more attention to the team members who are most like you? Beat this bias by observing all team members, seeing and appreciating their different ways of getting the job done.
  • Go steady on the gifts – beware making a bigger deal of the thanks than is warranted. Show thoughtfulness rather than extravagance. A book that’s relevant for your team member will be more thoughtful than a flashy bouquet. Look around your workplace and find out how that works ‘around here’.
  • Some employers have a spot bonus budget and incentive schemes; find out if you work at one such firm and if so, what qualifies for a one-off bonus, tickets to the movies/theatre or a gift card.


You may find this post useful: ‘Dealing with demotivation’


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’




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