You will never find me ordering a steak with the instructive phrase I am using in the title of this blog post. I have always been a medium rare kind of guy when it comes to cooking meat. But as a leader I understand the value of doing things well and how nice it is to be recognized for a job well done. Apparently there are plenty of leaders who don’t agree with, or practice, that last statement.
I recently read an article penned by the retired chairman and CEO of Mattel, Robert A. Eckert, who says his habit of saying “thank you” became a powerful part of the successful turnaround the company achieved. Early in his tenure he told employees gathered for a “town hall” that things would turn around and that he would likely receive the credit. But, he already acknowledged it would be their efforts that would make the difference and he wanted them to know how much he appreciated that.
In today’s competitive business environment the words “thank you” are often absent. Employees are likely working longer hours and many are more productive than they have ever been, yet too few leaders seem to notice and appreciate what is being accomplished. Most people I know want to do a good job and many of them are. Why is it so difficult to let them know they are valued?
Over the years I have taught dozens of business leaders about the value of constructive feedback and meaningful praise. Many of them haven’t consistently received either from their supervisor. Is it any wonder they don’t have the understanding or desire to practice these skills with their team?
Showing appreciation can be pretty simple. Eckert mentions a few things he does like set aside time every week to acknowledge people’s good work, using handwritten notes, praising in public in timely and specific ways, informing the person’s boss, and fostering a culture of gratitude. I would add some of my own that work well like personalizing the message, not being threatened by the other person’s stellar performance, and praising often.
Saying “thank you” is magnified when the praise is sincere and comes from someone you respect. I can’t think of a better prescription for today’s harried and stressed workplace than a leader who offers meaningful praise on a regular basis.
By the way, thanks to all the people who regularly read my blog and E-Newsletter. Your feedback and words of encouragement are truly appreciated. It’s my incentive to keep doing things well, even if my celebratory meal might include a piece of undercooked meat.