A Holiday Thought: Why Saying 'Thank You' Could Save Your Company Money (In Addition To Being The Right Thing To Do)

Dec 25 2013, 12:06pm CST | by

A Holiday Thought: Why Saying 'Thank You' Could Save Your Company Money (In Addition To Being The Right Thing To Do)
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

When I quit as a middle level manager for a Fortune 500 company, I took with me the title of “world’s worst boss.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I really was awful an awful manager. The people who suffered from what could only be described in jest as my “management style” can attest to this. I micromanaged. I wouldn’t delegate. I didn’t trust anyone to do an important task (since I knew I could do it better myself.)

On top of that, I had (to be kind) limited interpersonal skills, i.e. I didn’t know the first thing about how to be a boss, let alone a leader.

I did get one thing right, though. I always said “thank you,” especially when one of my staff went above and beyond.

It is something that I learned from my best bosses, and it is something that I have been thinking about on this Christmas day.

What they understood–and I came to realize the hard way–is that employees spend an inordinate amount of time watching what the boss does.

And what I came to see is that a boss’ behavior is just as important as what they say.  And the behavior that always resonated with me was when the boss said thank you.

(I still have a note–written in a red grease pencil–that Malcolm Forbes dropped off on my desk when I was staff writer at this magazine in 1981. He was thanking me for having a new take on a subject that had been in the news for weeks and was starting to bore him.)

Why is saying “thank you” important (besides the fact that it is good manners?)

Well, every study I have seen about employee retention says how much they are being paid is always listed fourth, fifth or sixth when people are asked why they stay at their job.

Far more important is the fact that people like their jobs.

Why do people like their jobs? “I have a good boss,” is always at the top of the list, when they are asked for an explanation.

And one of the reasons people give for liking that boss is that he (or she) says “thank you” when they do a good job.

Sure, you should pay good employees more.  But you may not have to be at the top of the pay scale in your industry, if you simply say “thank you” when appropriate.

People want praise and recognition (as well as a decent paycheck.)  Saying thank you if one of the best ways to provide the first two things on that list.

There are people who are working today–either because it is part of their job, or because they want to get a head start on tomorrow.

It would be a good idea to tell them thank you.

And as always, thanks for reading. And enjoy the holidays.


Paul B. Brown is co-author of Just Start published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Please note his blog appears every Sunday and Wednesday.  (Merry Christmas!)

Click on the “Following” button to get every new blog post as soon as its goes live.

Source: Forbes Business


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