Only two simple words written on the cards: thank you. Yet, they were powerful enough to show professionalism that made me felt confident to deal with the people of such quality.
When did the last time you say thank you to people around you -- people who work for you or with you?
Thank you -- when said sincerely released the power of goodness like fresh air. As essential as fresh air for our health and well-being, so is the power of goodness for our positive attitude in the work place.
Celebrating their contributions
A few years ago, as a bid manager* who managed seven winning bids for airport's IT infrastructure across the Pacific Islands countries, I was invited to speak in front of our support and operations team for airports in these countries. I was glad, as it was also a great opportunity to meet them in person. Apart from updating them what was happening in the airport's business unit, I emphasised two things: their valuable contributions in those winning bids and my heartfelt thanks.
I was very specific in what I thanked for (the kind of contributions they made) and whom I thanked to. Not just general appreciation.
At the end of the meeting, the team crowded me, and said thank you in return for thanking them openly. They confessed they never knew the importance of their roles in the whole process. They thought they were just a bunch of engineers who day in and day out worked at an airport site -- dealing with airport's operational incidents and ensuring its smooth operations -- nothing more outside their routine activities. They never realised, they, too, were part of the success.
When they told me how much it meant for them to be thanked for, I was overwhelmed -- I didn't expect such response. Few years have passed but I still can remember their happy faces. From then on, certainly, it made lives at work purposeful and meaningful for both parties.
Create a culture of gratitude
Another vivid example: in my recent role as a fundraising's Executive Officer for a Jesuit parish that constituted three Catholics churches in the North Sydney area. Two simple words -- thank you -- were my secret weapon. In fact, I didn't just say it, I handwritten my thank-yous and sent them to our donors. In a few months I wrote hundreds of them.
When I unexpectedly met them in person, and when they heard my name mentioned, their first greetings were always: "Thank you for the lovely card you sent us". They didn't just thank me in return but they also acknowledged my presence in their midst. The encounter, then, usually left me with a wonderful feeling, and best of all the returned donors -- they contributed again! Otherwise, how else could I raise (nearly) $500,000 in four months? Read its full story how I did it legacy-what-do-you-want-to-be-remembered-for.html.
Another great example in a bigger scale was when Doug Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, started at Campbell. The employees' morale was very low. It was one of his main tasks to improve it. How Doug did it: He directly acknowledged and appreciated every employee's contribution, at Campbell around the world, by writing him/her a note of appreciation or thank-you. In the midst of his crazy schedule, he always found time to personalise and write 10-20 notes per day. He said to thank them by email was okay but was not sufficient; on the other hand, thanking them specifically and personally by sending them a handwritten note showed how much he cared. The result was amazing: the morale improved; the productivity increased.
If Doug Conant's approach was for him to thank the employees, at Mattel, Robert A. Eckert, former chairman and CEO from 2000-11, created a culture of thanking each other. The culture allowing employees recognise and thank one another with a simple e-certificate for a free drink or coffee. He believed, a thank-you habit like this was key to Mattel, for six years running, being named as one of Fortune's Best Companies to Work For.
Let it begin with you
Maybe we don't need such a formal ceremony for saying thank you. And certainly it doesn't take extra time to appreciate someone's well-done work. But if anyone cares to make it as a habit, like Doug Conant, it is the most certain way of creating a culture of gratitude in a working place.
Believe it or not, a culture of gratitude creates much-needed positive energy for sustainable performance.
Positive energy drives productivity and creativity of the employees. Positive energy makes them thrive -- in other words, it makes them enjoy and love their work. And what does it mean to the company? The improved bottom line -- the overall company performance.
Again, when was the last time you said thank you to the people around you -- whose presence or work have made your personal and professional life meaningful? Or when was the last time you sent a thank-you note to them?
If you don't remember, it's a time for you to do so -- start creating a culture of gratitude -- let it begin with you.
Thank you for reading this article.
*About the author:
Fourteena is a trained and experienced bid manager who acquired her strategic bid management skills in Geneva, Switzerland. Since 2000, she has led virtual bid teams to successfully win about 45 airport's IT Infrastructure tenders/bids, worth $US80 million, across Australia; New Zealand; the Asian Pacific countries: India, China, Taiwan, Japan; and countries in the South Pacific Islands. View her profile http://www.linkedin.com/pub/fourteena-p-d-halim/27/41a/932