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Sep 3, 201912:37 PMOpen Mic

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How a simple ‘thank you’ can make you a better leader

(page 1 of 2)

Remember the last time a client, boss, or a co-worker gave you a handwritten thank-you note to tell you you’re doing a good job? Maybe someone at work has surprised you with flowers, an unexpected gift, or a bonus. Has a vendor ever slipped you a gift card worth the price of a cup of fancy coffee, just to show appreciation for your loyalty?

It felt good. It might even have prompted you to keep up the good work. You might have thought back to that gesture when you toyed with moving to a different company or switching to a cheaper vendor.

Your gesture of appreciation doesn’t have to be a gift. Simply saying “thank you” can go a long way toward improving employee morale, retaining valuable staff members, and keeping your clients coming back. In fact, in survey after survey, more than 20 percent of employees have said:

  • If they don’t feel recognized for doing good work, they have recently applied for a different job — compared with 12 percent of employees who do feel recognized.
  • More appreciation from bosses would make them happier at work.
  • They prefer written or oral “thank you’s” over extra time off or gifts.

Saying “thank you” is a simple but powerful gesture. And it can lay the foundation for a positive relationship with bosses, subordinates, and co-workers when the time comes for you to ask someone to go the extra mile.

Showing appreciation builds goodwill. People appreciate being appreciated. Someone who feels appreciation from you is more likely to return the gesture by agreeing to your requests. They want to let you know that they appreciate you, too.

Professional salespeople — at least the good ones — know this. They keep in touch with their customers long after they have made the sale. They thank them for their business. They check later to ask if the customers are happy with their major purchases. They ask what else the customer might need that they can offer.

It’s all part of creating a “customer for life,” and it’s a strategy that any employee, manager, or vendor can imitate in an effort to create good working relationships and agreeable clients, staff, and co-workers.

Consider the late Bob Bergland, a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and member of Congress who later worked as the general manager of an association with hundreds of employees. He was known for making the effort to learn the names of as many of those employees as he could, and for taking the time to stroll around the building every now and then to shake their hands and thank them for their service — by name.

When it came time for him to ask employees to go the extra mile, they were happy to return that goodwill.

I can share a practice of my own that works for me: As a small business owner, I handwrite thank-you notes on fancy paper and mail them in time for Thanksgiving delivery each year to every client, employee, and vendor I have ever done business with — even former ones.

When I find myself in need of a favor, a discount, or a rush job, they’re happy to help me.


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