Issue 79: Nov. 2011 Australian Institute of Management
The new book The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk suggests that today’s smartest businesses have moved forward by looking back to a time when the benefits of saying ‘thank you’ were better understood.
The author explains that a few generations ago a lack of graciousness would have ended the career of a village or local shopkeeper. In the 21st century’s social media driven teenage years negative virtual word of mouth can have the same devastating effect.
Vaynerchuk is not alone in his call for a thank you revival. A number of trendspotters claim gratitude is a wildly under-utilised business tool, one that can inspire both greater workforce productivity and keep customers coming back for more.
Overcoming gratitude deficit disorder
A recent poll on etiquette found five out of every 10 people don’t always say thank you. And herein lies the problem: it’s a fundamental aspect of the human condition that people are hungry for recognition of their efforts, both large and small.
With regard to customer or client service, an array of studies reveals that when thanked customers both spend more money and tell their friends how happy they are about an organisation’s service.
eBay offers a powerful example of gratitude in action. Because eBayers rate each other’s service there is an abundance of gratitude involved in most transactions, something that’s forgotten in many business transactions because there appears to be little incentive to show thanks.
Gratitude is also a smart management tool for organisations of all sizes. Quite simply, it makes employees feel useful and, as a result, more invested in their work. The process also helps the giver of thanks with research showing grateful people are more energetic, optimistic and social.
How grateful are you? Take the test here.
Making gratitude happen
Embedding gratitude within a business won’t happen by ordering staff to thank customers sincerely or broadcasting a series of vague ‘great work team’ platitudes. It’s a process that must be driven from the top down and carefully tailored to each situation.
Of course most managers make an effort to give positive feedback yet this tends to be reserved for ‘above and beyond’ moments only. A better approach, according to this HBR post is to recognise those smaller tasks that help make a company hum.
While hitting the right tone when offering appreciation doesn’t come easily to everyone, the ability to give sincere feedback can be learned. It all starts with some self-reflection in order to build greater empathy for those around us.
According to The Wall Street Journal it’s worth trying out a Buddhist exercise called Naikan, which asks people to ponder daily: What have I received from…? What have I given to…? and What trouble have I caused…?
The pitfalls of an appreciative approach
Building a thank you culture in any organisation has two dangers.
The first is that insincere thank you gestures or praise that is not shared evenly may be met with cynicism. And secondly, gratitude must be part of a clearly articulated strategy that helps to shape the organisation in the long term.
Building a grateful enterprise is not an easy or quick process, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one when you consider the benefits of showing that you fundamentally care about colleagues and clients.
Or as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it:
“There’s only so low you can go on price. There’s only so excellent you can make your product or service. There’s only so far you can stretch your marketing budget. Your heart, though, that’s boundless.”
Tips for implementing a thank you culture
Be specific – general compliments are usually well received but specific feedback is more meaningful
Process driven – rather just mentioning a positive outcome show your gratitude for the process an employee has undertaken to achieve success
Write stuff – a hand written note trumps a verbal or emailed comment as it provides workers with a keepsake of your appreciation
Thank complainers – more than anything else complainers want to be heard, thanking them for their feedback can stop them spreading negative viewpoints
Offer a value-added thank-you – consider different ways of showing thanks, such as sending a colleague a whitepaper or article that’s relevant to them
The once a week rule – set a reminder in your calendar to thank an employee each week to keep up the momentum of your gratitude
Go social – if your business is active in the social media space appreciation is particularly important as customers demand a bespoke peer-to-peer gratitude
49 Gratitude Quotes and A Poem of Thankfulness
Numbers 6:24-26 The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
Philippians 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
by Martin G. Collins
Forerunner, “Bible Study,”
More than 19 centuries ago, God inspired the apostle Paul to predict today’s global attitudes and write them down to warn us: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves . . . unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:1-2). Today, most people are self-centered, discontent, and ungrateful. At best, many think about giving thanks only once each year—and then only because Thanksgiving Day forces them to consider it.
Original article here