A specific, relevant thank you has the power to energize and keep people moving. In this episode, David shares a meaningful thank you and how you can encourage your people – even when you haven’t had a recent “win.”
Powerful Thank Yous
“The reason I’m writing is to say, thank you, thank you for bringing some light into my leadership management journey. I can’t say I’ve met anyone with your level of understanding for authentic, compassionate leadership. You made an impression and an impact on me. I was beginning to believe there were not people in our corporate world who could turn to others and be able to say I get it. You restored my hope truly. Thank you.”
So yeah, you get a note like that. Okay. I think I’m going to do this again tomorrow. I mean, I would anyway, but that’s the power of a thank you. And that is such a great, thank you. Note, it’s specific. What did I do? Why did it matter to her? So both types of specificity, what the person did, why it mattered, it’s relevant to the work it’s meaningful to me knowing that I’m trying to make an impact. So it’s a great example of encouragement, encouragement that gets, uh, produces more results and creates more engagement. And it’s the kind of encouragement that I would invite you to offer to your team members. So just a great example of a well done. Thank you and encouragement. And I wanted to share it because it was meaningful and it was relevant to the work we’re doing here. And it was incredibly meaningful to me personally.
And so that’s good for me, but now the pivot is what about you? Where can you be encouraging and thanking and energizing people, particularly if it’s been a minute, when things get busy, when things get stressful, when the world gets, you know, overwhelming, those are the times where can we take a deep breath, step back and recognize who is it that needs appreciation? Who is it that could use that, that encouraging note, maybe it’s handwritten. Maybe it’s a quick message about something that’s happening for them personally, a person, a pet, a project, something that’s going on in their life that you can recognize, acknowledge, encourage them, wish them well in it. There are so many opportunities for us to touch base as human beings, but that I was just struck by this note because it just reminded me the power of a good thank you and encouragement, and that we all need it.
We never outgrow our need for it. Your boss needs it. Your team needs it. If you have a significant other, they need it. Your children need it. We all need it. And so the first focus here is how can you be someone who is supplying that for other people? And yes, we also need it ourselves. And so to identify the people in your life who are the encouragers, there are people who are naturally wired for it. And you may have people who, you know, don’t go there as readily, but sometimes it’s okay to ask, say, Hey, you know, I’m really needing some encouragement right now. And I’m the world is looking over well, bigger or hard and listen, it would be helpful if you could tell me one thing that you really appreciate about how I’m approaching this X, Y, or Z, this relationship, this work, this project, this, whatever it is sometimes it’s okay to ask. And then there are the people who are more readily going to do it that we can connect with and go to.
So in previous episodes, we’ve talked about, as you are giving encouragement to make it specific, as we mentioned, what did they do? Why did it matter? Make it meaningful to the individual on the more meaningful, personal to them in the ways that are keyed into their interests? The things that actually mean something to them, the more powerful it’s going to be, and then relevant both to particularly in a work context, how they’re doing the work, not just the results, but also how they’re going about doing it, their relationships and so on. And that’s the kind of encouragement that’s going to be most effective for you as a leader. Now, I want to take a question that came in this week from a program that we’re doing leadership development program. And I thought this was an insightful question with regard to encouragement.
Answering questions really is one of my favorite things to do. And I would just love the opportunity to answer one of yours. So if you have a leadership or management-related question, you can send that to me. One of two ways you can click here and scroll down to the big orange button. Then click that button and record your question, or you can email it to me. I look forward to answering your question in a future episode.
So today’s question, as I said, comes from a participant in one of our leadership development programs, and following the conversation around encouragement, they asked this, “I’ve got a team member who has not experienced any wins. W I N S wins in quite some time. They’re doing the right things. They’re a consistent performer, consistent contributor. They do a good job, but right now they’re a little crestfallen and I don’t want to encourage them with empty platitudes. There’s a balance between encouraging things that are real and those that are the empty platitudes. So what can I do? How can I encourage them? How can I give them that energy while recognizing that there haven’t been any wins lately? I don’t want it to be empty or fake.”
I just loved this question. It’s coming from a leader who obviously really cares and is in a good place in terms of wanting to support their people and keep them energized and motivated. So my thoughts on this start with the fact that yes, we have to acknowledge the reality that sometimes there aren’t “wins” and sometimes that’s because it didn’t work out the way we hoped other times. It’s because we’re doing something where there will be a capital W in time, but it can take a while. That’s where “thank you” comes in.
I watched the engineers and the people in the command center as the latest project was landed on Mars, where you see the result of all the different years and years of planning that goes into landing the newest Rover onto Mars and all the new technology that’s in it. And then recently they’ve done the helicopter launch. Well, those wins, there is the win of successfully landing it on the planet and it all works. And they get the first images back and the joy in their faces as they cheered was extraordinary. But think about how long that takes big WIN takes—there are going to be years and years that go by without a tangible win that you can wrap your hands around and say, “We did it!” Rather, it’s a very long series of smaller wins and activities that you need to acknowledge and to keep people going.
It’s like working on losing weight. You can be doing the exact same things that you’re doing the previous month, where it was just melting off. And then the next month you do those exact same things, and the scale doesn’t move at all. If the behaviors are the right behaviors to acknowledge, encourage people for doing what you know will work in time. So that’s one place to go is to acknowledge the behaviors, celebrate those. You get more of what you celebrate and encourage. Celebrate the things that are going to lead to success.
Next is to encourage people to share progress. If you’ve got project management updates naturally, or if you don’t, you have team huddles, share status updates–what’s good. What progress have you made? Where has the needle moved on something since the last time you were together? Celebrate those moments, and again, acknowledge, “Hey, we’re a long way off from the ultimate thing, but this is progress and we need to ring the bell!”
Speaker 1: (10:42)
We need to cheer. We need to celebrate. I first learned this ring the bell, from author Jim Collins, who wrote Good to Great and many other books. I also heard him speak, and he was talking about how Winston Churchill during World War II would make sure to have people ring the bells. And it was not that the war was won, but that there were moments of victory and “We’re still here” and “We’re still alive” and “We’re still getting it done.” So take those moments, to ring the bell, to encourage people along the way to celebrate progress, even if it’s not attainment, and to celebrate the behaviors that make a difference when they’re the right behaviors over time, even if they’re going to take awhile. So I appreciate the leader who raised their hand and asked that question. And I look forward to answering your question in a future episode.
Until then remember the power of encouragement. Where can you be finding people, doing things that you need more of? Can you take a step back and acknowledge the effort, that contribution, the awesomeness that they’re bringing to it —whatever’s going to be resonant for them when you share it? Find someone to encourage this week and be the leader you’d want your boss to be.