The CEO wanted to express his appreciation. "Thank you, everyone, for your hard work," he told several thousand employees.
Some must have wondered, "Everyone???"
Well, one can't really say, "Thank you all, except for Kelly in Purchasing, Scott in Sales, and the entire Engineering Department—what exactly do you guys do all day?"
Saying thanks is polite. My mother taught me that. Every year on my birthday, I'd get a card from a mysterious "Aunt Fanny."
I don't remember ever meeting Fanny. She wasn't really my aunt, she was a distant relative, maybe a 2nd or 3rd aunt, some kind of back-up aunt—whenever someone tried to explain her, it took a long time and was extremely complicated—and her name wasn't really Fanny, it was something else like Francis, or Fran, or Floyd.
But she never forgot my birthday, and I always had to thank her. My mother was right about that. It was good practice.
So there's nothing wrong with thanking several thousand employees. A lot of people feel over-worked and under-appreciated.
"Does Hillary know what a good job she's doing?" President Obama asked Vice President Biden about the Secretary of State.
"Why don't you tell her," Biden said (NY Times, 3/19/10).
Sounds simple. But suppose you were President—how would you do it?
1) Thank the State Department, in general, for their good work. Assume Hillary knows that includes her.
2) Thank Hillary through a third party, who could gossip, "You'll never guess what the President was saying about you the other day!"
Third party could be anyone with credibility—the Vice President, a random Supreme Court Justice, a former astronaut.
3) Tell H. face-to-face, "Good job."
4) Give H. a few examples of how she's completely exceeded your expectations.
Tip: It's easy to forget saying thanks. Also easy to thank everyone in general. But it's more powerful to thank individuals for specifics.
© Copyright 2012 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.