I spent a lot of time back around New Year’s thinking about personal and professional goals. Below is a repost of an article I originally published on 1/2/2017 via LinkedIn that relates to some of those goals. I hope you enjoy it!
Ah, New Year’s. The time of year when we all vow to lose thirty pounds, be a better spouse or parent, exercise regularly, pay off their credit cards, and cure cancer. It’s the most hopeful time of the year, which I love.
A lot of people make some sort of resolution to “fix their career” at New Year’s. This might mean training for a new type of work, or finding a new job making more money, or getting promoted. But there is a whole different type of career resolution that you should think about, that doesn’t require you find a different company to sing your paycheck.
Thank the people you work with.
I don’t mean the cursory, one word “thx!” e-mails that most of us send out multiple times a day. And while in-person, verbal expressions of thanks are awesome, I’m not talking about that either. I mean getting out the nice stationery or a lovely blank card and writing a thank you note for someone you work with.
Many people haven’t written a proper thank you note for an awfully long time. For many, the last memory of writing a thank you was trying to figure out how to properly phrase thanks for the wedding gift of a green ceramic deviled egg tray that you most decidedly did *not* register for. That means you might be rusty at writing them. It’s OK – if you can figure out the deviled egg tray thing, you can figure out how to thank a colleague. All that’s required is to be as sincere as possible, and share specifics about what you appreciate. It doesn’t have to be long – in fact, thanks that are brief and genuine will always beat thanks that are longer and seem inauthentic.
So why should you do this? Especially when you spent 40+ hours a week with these people in a cube farm?
People are starving for appreciation. One of the biggest reasons for turnover and disengagement at work is that people don’t feel appreciated. Usually, we discuss this in terms of bosses not showing appreciation for their teams, but the problem exists at every level – peers don’t show appreciation for each other, bosses don’t show appreciation for their direct reports, and freaking NOBODY shows appreciation for the bosses, especially at the executive level. Everyone is starving for a boost.
Nobody writes their thanks down. In my 18 year career, I have received exactly two handwritten notes of appreciation from colleagues. Two. Writing down what you appreciate about someone in your own hand gives something tangible and memorable to the person. And you never know when re-reading your note might give someone the boost to get through a tough time.
It’s a network booster, which makes it a career investment. Those 2 thank you notes I mentioned getting in 18 years? I still have both of them, and I got the last one about 7 years ago. Imagine how much more meaningful your network will be if it includes a group of people who are familiar not just with your competence and work ethic, but with the heart and empathy you show when you sincerely express your appreciation.
For these reasons, and many more, I spent a few hours this weekend writing thank you notes to about 15 of my colleagues, and I wish my hand hadn’t cramped up so I could do more. Instead, I will look for more opportunities to do this for people in 2017 and encourage others to do the same.
Thank the people you work with.
When is the last time you thanked someone in writing for their contribution to your success? When is the last time someone thanked you in writing? Share your stories in the comments!
Diana Alt is a connector and problem solver who loves to use her skills in sorting out confusion and chaos both in her day job as a Product Owner for Data Analytics at Ascend Learning and as a career and networking coach. Some of her favorite words are “grok”, “why”, and “kaizen” and she thinks that the notion of having a “work persona” and a “personal life persona” is, for the most part, nonsense. She recently won some new note cards in a raffle at her family reunion at can’t wait to write a few more letters to people!