Saying “thank you” goes a long way when you mean it. Saying “thank you” to a co-worker, your boss, a customer, anyone — is an opportunity each and every day to get positive connection with another person. Challenge yourself like Ann did to thank someone each half day for something.
Ann realized that she tracked her steps to make sure she got in 10,000 steps per day. Her tracker showed her a little reward icon and acknowledged her each time she met the requirement. It gave her a happy feeling inside with each acknowledgement of her progress. One day it occurred to her that the measure of her steps goal could be applied to other things for “that happy feeling” and she picked saying “thank you.” “I like how it feels to challenge myself and measure my progress. I realized I did not thank people enough. I spent more time criticizing than thanking and I wanted to change that. So I started with once a day, and now I am up to two.”
Ann keeps a “thank you” journal to make sure she checks off her two “thanks” per day and notes who they were to and what they were for. After a month of success with her twice per day goal she rewards herself with a personal spa service or movie. The ultimate result has been astounding. After getting over the initial shock, her staff noticed the difference as evidenced by the comments in their performance evaluation of her. “I feel valued and appreciated.” “When a heartfelt thanks is offered when I don’t expect it, I’ve really appreciated it. It makes me want to be here and do better.” “I didn’t realize the stuff I do right was ever noticed. It’s been refreshing to be on the receiving end of a thank you.”
For Ann it’s been a gentle shift and really right.
- Letting Me Struggle
George sheepishly walked up to me after a presentation and said, “You hit me in the head with a two by four. I just realized when I finish the job for my employees. I am rewarding them. It is demeaning to treat people like they are not capable.” George decided that day he would no longer take care of unfinished work or work done wrong. He would bring the crew back to the job site and explain how he had contributed to the problem of having to finish things himself and how it demonstrated a lack of trust in them. “I did not like to see you struggle to figure things out yourself. I robbed you of the learning opportunity. I won’t do that anymore. I’ll learn patience and support you to live up to what you can do. It’s scary but I do know you can do it.”
George got it really right. Realizing the value is in the struggle and that you have to allow the struggle to let others grow is huge. It’s genuine. Some may not like it and quit but that’s ok, it’s positive attrition. Allowing the struggle is the number one way to attract the best and the brightest. Talent loves to be able to demonstrate their talent, to reach and stretch and grow. If you are rescue, fixing and saving too much, is that your value or are you devaluing your people?
Knowing that the value is in the struggle contributes enormously to the growth and development of others. It is something you can do that is really right.
At the end of a year wouldn’t it be great to get a note from an employee or co-worker that says I wanted to thank you for these two things that you do really right. You thank me and you let me struggle. What two things do you want to be thanked for if these are not it? Maybe what you do is a thankless job but that doesn’t mean you can’t be personally accountable for your growth and development by identifying two things you do really right.