If we really believed that our success at work depends on other people being successful in their jobs, what would we do differently?
I ask this in the context of exploring our interdependence as people working within the same organization. We Americans have a dim sense of our interdependence with each other and with the rest of the world.
Yet, no matter what our role is, we are supported by many other people of whose work we may know nothing. How many times do we think about the people who are on the roof fixing the leaks or the people who deliver the products or the people whose job it is to find resources for the organization or those who ensure that everyone gets a paycheck?
When I ask audiences what we would do differently if we really acknowledged our mutual dependence, an answer that comes up is this—We would say “thank you” more often.
I sometimes go to the other extreme and end a phone call with an absent-minded, “Thanks.” There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but it’s more a nicety than an authentic expression of gratitude.
So what are some authentic expressions that really say “thank you” to co-workers? Here is a list of ways to thank others for a job well done or just because their work every day makes your work (and your success) possible.
1. A face-to-face “thank you”
Say why you appreciate what was done for you. “I appreciated your referring that client. I would not ordinarily have had an opportunity to work with him/her and it’s an area I’ve been wanting to get into.”
2. A hand-written note
A hand-written thank you note or card will stand out. Very few people take the time to write a message in their own hand. A card or note will last longer than an E-mail. When I visited a client, I felt humbled and happy to see a card I had sent displayed on her desk. (Remember to include the details of why you are appreciative.)
3. A hand-written card from the whole work group or staff
This is nice for the times when the whole office has received special help or consideration. Having each person write a few lines and sign the card is a thoughtful gesture and brings every employee into the process. It can also get people into the habit of thinking and behaving appreciatively. It makes my day when I receive one of these.
4. An E-card
Many E-greetings are free of charge and all of them enable a personal message.
5. Custom cards automatically created and sent
You can send real paper cards (with stamps) that are generated automatically through http://www.sendbettercards.com/ This is a web-based service that prints, stuffs, stamps and mails cards for any occasion from you. (You create your own messages and can even have the card message generated in your own handwriting.) Try out the service free.
6. A single flower
If you can manage it, include one of those little plastic tubes that keeps the stem in water. This could mean the difference in the flower making it through the day. When I was an assistant principal in a high school, I put a red rose in a teacher’s mail box as part of an apology. It made a difference.
7. A favorite candy bar or a piece of really good chocolate or a perfect piece of fruit
Noticing what people particularly like or never eat helps here.
8. A gift certificate to a movie for two
9. A special award created for a special project
I once produced a video for an event called the Showcase. Taking a cue from the Oscars, my colleagues created and presented me with a “Showscar” which is a gold statuette flanked by a CD. My “Showscar” stands proudly on my bookcase.
10. Leave a brief message on someone’s answering machine
“I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your doing XYZ. Thanks so much. We were able to get it done on schedule thanks to you.” And that’s all you need to say.
11. Home-baked cookies, bars, muffins, cupcakes
Anything you bake yourself is almost always appreciated, although few would turn down a bag of cookies from the bakery tied with colorful ribbons.
And these last two are from Jo Condrill who suggests:
12. A small certificate of appreciation. As Jo says, it doesn’t have to be a full-size. A smaller size framed certificate will be eye-catching and easier to fit in most office spaces.
13. A U.S. Flag
Give a U.S. flag that has flown over the Capitol. It is a unique gift and costs range from $9-$25. depending on how much personalization you want. A certificate of authenticity is included. Call or check the web site of your U.S. congressman or congresswoman to order.
How do you say thanks to the people you work with? Please let me know.
If this idea of interdependence in the workplace interests you, read “Declare Your Interdependence,” Chapter 3 in Staying Healthy in Sick Organizations: The Clover Practice™
Author and consultant Kathleen A. Paris, Ph.D., speaks on healthy workplaces, provides consulting for strategic planning, process improvement and redesign, and professional development for leaders. Read more »