Saying “thank you” is hard for me. Letting my team members know they’ve done a good job just doesn’t come naturally. Ask any of my past Wediko Summer staff members. At the beginning of each summer, I sit down with them to talk about our individual working styles, and I always need to explain that just because they don’t hear “thank you” or “good job” as often as I know they deserve it, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t crushing it. Giving this disclaimer still doesn’t get me off the hook, and each year I’ve worked to do better.
As it turns out, I’m not alone on this one. According to a poll by the Maritz Institute, more than half of employees shared that they were thanked never, seldom, or only occasionally by their managers. Why is it so difficult for some of us to say “thank you” to others? Do we feel too busy to slow down and express gratitude? Or is it because saying “thank you” makes us feel vulnerable, indebted to someone, or helpless without them?
Whatever the reason is, we need to say “thank you” more. We need to say it more as individuals, but we need to find ways to create company cultures around this idea as well. When you say “thank you,” you’re sending a message that says “You’re important, I appreciate you, what you do and say matters, and I recognize your accomplishments and efforts.”
Here at Wediko, I have been personally and professionally encouraged to increase my “thank you” quota, as we have a few formal office-wide structures for sharing our gratitude. In our Boston office, we have an all-staff meeting every Friday afternoon to review business announcements and upcoming events. The meeting always closes with “meter moments,” which is when staff recognize one another for a job well done or for going above and beyond. This is done by sharing a short story of the meter moment and by giving the recipient a quarter (you know, to use at the parking meter!). It lets the recipient, and everyone in the room, acknowledge the great work someone has done!
With the Wediko Summer Program, staff are easily inspired to increase their thanks-giving either by the students we work with, like Adriana was, or by fellow staff members. At the end of each summer during reorientation week, staff create a Validation Wall. This quickly became my favorite part of the reorientation process! On the Validation Wall, people have the opportunity to write a validation on a notecard for one person or a whole group. They then hang it on one of the Validation Walls in the dining hall. By the end of the week, these formerly blank walls are transformed into a colorful space covered with expressions of gratitude and validation.
It feels really nice to be acknowledged like this. It makes staff feel special and appreciated. It’s also really nice to share in those moments as a community. During “meter moments,” the room is full of smiles and people who are excited to validate one another. Similarly, plenty of summer staff have situated themselves in front of the Validation Wall and read each and every notecard, again, with a smile on their face and excitement to share their own kind words for others. Sharing moments of gratitude is uplifting for everyone.
With that, I challenge you to take a moment to reflect, and think about the individuals who have helped you with something this week. Now, pick up the phone, get up from your desk, or send an e-mail or text message and share a “thank you.”
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