What do the words, THANK YOU, mean to you?

In Spanish, thank you is ‘mil gracias’. Are they just two words? Do they mean more? Are they meant to be used only in our homes and for loved ones only? Do they have any bearing on staff productivity? Is there any bearing with saying ‘thank you on mind engagement and loyalty of employees? Why would a lady, who knows she is loved still want to hear the words said out clearly? It is reassurance. It is validation. It is confirmation of team-ness!

I had a driver who was very diligent in driving and car care. My car was always very clean. He would clean the car at virtually every meeting stop we had. I appreciated this and had my ways of acknowledgement. This varied depending on my mood and circumstance. He loved it when I let in a space for a little chit-chat while driving. Sometimes, an update about his family, sometimes a local issue where he lived. Simple words like ‘these your tyres are shining’ bring a glow to his eyes. There are thus different ways to say thank you.

When you say thank you, people develop a feeling that they have done something to help you, something you appreciate. It is not a weakness to acknowledge anyone. For some, it is a mind game. ‘Thank you’ gives pleasure. It gives motivation. It breeds commitment and loyalty. It is an attitude of gratitude, which is increasingly becoming rare in a world of ego competition. Unknown to many, gratitude is a great influencer. It looks old-fashioned, but is fresh to recipients! Imagine having to park your car yourself, on a day your driver could not come to the office and you are already late for a meeting in areas where parking is difficult like Marina, Lagos. You should then acknowledge the service, even though he is in your pay role.

Even the sophisticated, acknowledge and appreciate ‘thank you, though may appear not to care. To your employees, you would have made their day – when you say ‘thank you, this is good!’ Some bosses who struggle with their ego or complex, think it brings them down to say thank you. I worked with a staff who told me one thing she learned working with me was not to be afraid to acknowledge a staff’s strength and grow it. I won her deep loyalty throughout. I also enjoyed the benefit of good staff wanting to move with me when I moved a job. ‘Thank you and acknowledgements create a strong sense of security. They had my back often! I had theirs’ too. That of course did not take away the firmness needed on the job and the sense of urgency on the job. For some, this is where the problem lies – finding the delicate balance between being firm and being nice. It has to be worked at. We need both!

With my spouse, at intervals, I remember some things she had done consistently unacknowledged for a while. I just say ‘thank you’. She looks at me in surprise and responds, ‘For what?’ Then I say, ‘Everything I forgot to say thank you for.’ Now, she is a mature lady, so she handles it calmly, but I know my message is sent. It is a tonic! An energy drink! And we have come a long way.

Does saying ‘thank you’ make you a weak person?  No, it does not. It is rather a strong leadership tool for motivation and affirmation. You have to win the hearts of your core team members – Your driver, your domestic staff, your department, your management team, your board, your Managing Director. This is completely different from staff remuneration. I once left a higher-paying job for a lesser-paying job where I felt I was better appreciated. Not everyone is so motivated by just material things. They want that personal touch. Thank you and appreciation has great healing powers.

I read recently the comments of a Liverpool player in the Premiership league, Mo Salah. He said he was enthused by the personality of his Coach, Jurgen Klopp. He made him feel appreciated when he gave him a big hug on their first meeting and appreciative words. If you know him well, he appears truly to be a bit shy, maybe timid. But his sterling performance is not in doubt. He only needed a coach like Jurgen to pull him out. That was the tonic! He could have also had a coach who would be all too bossy and too blameful. We have seen footballers frustrate such coaches out of their jobs.

Your crowd does not thin out if you know how to say ‘thank you and appreciate people. You are never really alone. It does not take away from you the professional man or woman in you. Some ‘senior’ men and women have found out disappointingly that they are suddenly alone after retirement or when they leave an organization for another. They are quickly forgotten, even by those they thought they did favors. Their structures are quickly pulled down, and they wonder at what point things go wrong. From cradle to grave, we all need love and appreciation.
Do not forget to say ‘thank you.

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