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IM#5 🙏🏾 "Thank you" does more than you think

3 min read reading time

Hey People Manager,

Last week I heard a manager say, “Why should I thank someone on my team for doing their job? They’re getting paid, aren’t they?”

No friend, a salary doesn’t show appreciation. That’s the company honouring an employment contract. It has nothing to do with you. You don’t make that happen and people on your team know that.

You may have read Sheila Heen and Doug Stone’s book called “Thanks for the Feedback”. It changed the way I show appreciation and handle feedback.

Heen and Stone see appreciation as 1 of 3 kinds of feedback:

→ Appreciation: Recognizing someone’s work and effort

→ Coaching: Supporting someones growth in their craft

→ Evaluation: Comparing someone’s performance to a pre-agreed standard

I grew up in Zimbabwe and in Shona culture we learn to show appreciation before we can speak. We show appreciation by clapping our hands. So if someone hands you something, you clap your hands 2-3 times before taking it. After a meal, you clap your hands to show appreciation. And even after you grow up and learn to say “mazvita” which means thank you, you continue to clap your hands in appreciation. (How does your culture treat appreciation?)

What I didn’t know was that at work, direct appreciation boosts a feeling of belonging in others because it reminds them that what they do matters to you, to the team and the company. According to Daniel Coyle, people work better together and stay on teams longer when they feel like they belong.

Here’s something unexpected about appreciation that I got from Heen and Stone’s book: people become more receptive to your Coaching and Evaluation feedback if you’ve shown Appreciation.

Conversely, they become more resistant to coaching and evaluation if you’ve never shown appreciation.

Which makes sense. You've never said a good work about their work, and the first thing you come with is criticism. GTFO!

And don’t try to sandwiching some evaluation between some appreciation at the last minute just before you need to give tough feedback a.k.a the 💩 sandwich. They’ll smell your inauthenticity from a mile away and will stop trusting you.

So here’s 5 ways to show appreciation in your 1:1s this week.

I know, we’re grown up and this sounds like a dumb thing to share with other grown folks.

But if you’re like me, you may have fallen into the habit of sending a quick 🙏🏾 👍🏾 to say thanks. Emoji are bare minimum effort. And you and I, we’re not bare minimum effort managers.

We show up to show care, and when it comes to appreciation that means we say things like:

  • Thank you for your hard work on [specific task/project].
  • I appreciate the effort you put into [specific task/project].
  • Your dedication to [specific task/project] is inspiring.
  • I want to thank you for going above and beyond on [specific task/project].
  • Your contributions to the team have not gone unnoticed. Thank you.

++ Bonus points if you’ve ever asked them in a 1:1 whether they prefer public or private messages of appreciation. The right message, delivered in the right place at the right time? That’s the kind of DOPE people management that unlocks high impact performance.

Now, go manage like you give a damn and #MakeWorkDOPE.

Thanks for reading this far.

Thanks for your kindness and generosity.

Have good 1:1s and see you next week.


P.S. I'm writing a book about 1:1 meetings and I'd love to learn from you what 1:1 conversations you struggle with. Hit reply and let me know.

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