Thanks Be With You
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Thanks Be With You


Recently we discussed thank you notes to potential hiring managers on a technical women’s list – and it triggered a note about all the other sorts of ‘thank you’ occasions we frequently ignore.

Then I spoke to a group of small business people about performance management – and saying “Thank You” came up.

Many people feel as if polite manners have exited the workplace. We all, of course, see ourselves as the exception!

Saying Thank You to Employees

Thanking an employee for good work is a great way to get more good work. Pretty basic, rarely done well. Now we write articles on those rare executives who do this instead.

Yet this is something you can do easily. And it reaps a lot of rewards. People who feel appreciated tend to go the extra distance to solve problems, treat customers well, and make suggestions.

As a founder or leader your words of thanks carry extra meaning – so don’t be bland and generic.

Thank someone for

  • a specific piece of work,
  • a great communication with a customer, or,
  • saving your bacon on a project.

If you really mean it, they will recognize and appreciate it! Say it simply, and as soon as you can.

A culture of people who say thank you to each other creates a more positive workplace. This, too, starts at the top. But it lubricates the day-to-day work and enhances everyone’s productivity.

One Metro DC organization has formalized this. Once or twice a year there is an envelope posted for every employee, and all other employees can write a note about something the employee did well, or helped them with or whatever – and stick it into the envelope. No mandates but most folks participate. No peeking allowed! The envelopes are all distributed and opened at a small in-office gathering with cookies and coffee. Most employees love it!

Saying Thank You to Customers

OK, you know you are supposed to do this. And “thank you for your business” is probably in your customer newsletter or on your invoices. But really, is that all you do?

Again, being specific is important. If I’m the customer, you need to know me, and have an idea what might be important to me.

When you thank a customer, think about something besides their business.

Is this someone who

  • has referred business to you?
  • serves as a reference you can use?
  • suggested new products or services you might offer?
  • has given you a bright idea that helped your business?
  • introduced you to a service provider you now love?

With customers, a note is much better than a quick chat.

Sure, for a big deal or someone who is regularly supportive, you also might want to send a gift. I give books as one form of this but have also gotten purple flowers, chocolates, and bookseller gift cards. Again, tailor it to the person – and any rules, such as those in government contracting.

Keep It Going

I found it fascinating that social media smarties are now writing actual snail mail notes to each other. See the Wall St. Journal article “ Stationery’s New Followers”.

Think of the people you work with – vendors, service providers, consultants, and all. Remember the person who answered your desperate broadcast plea as your systems crashed at the most inopportune time? The folks who helped you research something fast and free? A quick thank you is always welcome.

Uh, and those people you love? My grandfather taught me early that we tend to have it backward – we treat people we barely know better than we treat our nearest and dearest.

And yes, job-hunters, a thank you note – email or snail – to those who help you along the way, as well as recruiters and interviewers, is both a smart way to show that you do know your manners, and also serves as another advertisement for you.

One of the side benefits of a well-done “thank you” is that it goes to your credit as well. So Mom was really right all those years when she told you to say please and thank you properly.

Thanks for reading! Your ideas and comments are most welcome. Yes, I actually do mean that. If you did not read this, and pass it on or comment on it, how would I know if my work was useful? So, thanks! Really!

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Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital, and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. She can be reached through her website, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.


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  1. You are right on, Patricia. No matter how digital everything and everyone gets, humans have a basic need for tactile recognition. Sending a note or a gift makes a huge impact on both the recipient and the giver; sometimes you have no idea how meaningful your gesture can be to someone. Besides being “the right thing to do,” business people who use appreciation as part of their marketing strategy generate higher profits too.

    I’ve actually written a special report on this topic. The Secrets of Gratitude and How You Can Super Charge Your Profits is available to blog readers for free at

  2. I still write a LOT of hand written thank you notes, but I have found that they have gone ignored in more recent years. No one expects a “hey thanks for the thanks,” but when you see that person, it is proper to mention receiving a note… am I too Southern to expect this old song and dance?

    Anyway, I love hand writing and I love the feel of stationary, but the thought feels lost on most people now. Have you experienced this?

    • @laniar I don’t think most people will say thanks for the thanks, unless it was something really extraordinary. That doesn’t mean your gesture wasn’t noticed and appreciated. You are only responsible for what you can control, and that is YOUR actions. Continue to do what you believe is the right thing, regardless of whether or not you get acknowledgment for your note.

      • @LoriSaitz I supposed I mean when you see someone in person. I always encourage people that do kind things so they will keep the kind ecosystem going. It’s not about me 🙂

    • @laniar I don’t think you’re too Southern. My first instinct would be to call to say how much I appreciated the note, especially since it such a rare touch these days, but I can’t promise that I’d actually remember to follow through with the actual act.

      But I think @LoriSaitz is right – people appreciate it. I’ve definitely experienced what you’re talking about though. The culture of “thanks” and the speed of discourse has changed so much, at such a pace that certain ideas are being torn out of our interactions. It’s up to all of us to reintegrate the things we’d like to keep.

      It’s what’s so important about Patra’s article. And it’s an opportunity to be the ones who keep those things from passing into the night. Thank you both for commenting. 🙂

    • I think a lot of people still really appreciate a thank you note via snail although I don’t think most think to say ‘thanks for thanking me’. I have had client CEOs talk about getting a hand-written note from someone in much the same tone a little kid talks about gold stars! And know I certainly appreciate the rare person who does such for me too. It may all be good for your karma but I think it is good for us all emotionally and in business terms. Thanks for the comments, I do appreciate feedback for my columns!

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