Each of us are unique human beings and are truly works-in-progress.
I would never expect that each person who writes and sends an anniversary or career milestone ecard, or any ecard, look exactly the same way. That would make them impersonal and insincere.
However, the recent experience of reaching my 15th year with Engage2Excel, previously known as Rideau Inc., provided some wonderful insights to learn from with the emails or ecards that I received from leaders and peers alike.
Let’s look at some messages sent to me and learn some practical principles when expressing recognition in writing on a long-service anniversary.
Short, To-the-Point, With No Emotional Connection
Your online program informs everyone that is the date of your regular or special milestone anniversary. No surprises. In fact, many vendors ensure that managers and supervisors receive an email notification in advance to remind them of the upcoming date and to tag it on their calendars.
One ecard I received on my anniversary simply said, “Congratulations on your 15th anniversary with Rideau/E2E Group!”
The message did not include my name. Of course, you select the name of the person it’s going to when you go through the ecard set up. Yet it adds a little something more when the message is addressed to you.
It was nice to be acknowledged, but the ecard just sat there staring back at me. The message was straight to the point. However, it did not tell me anything that I didn’t already know. It seemed flat. Without feeling. They inserted no emotional connection into the message. I made no connection between the sender and the receiver, me.
Ironically, it stood out by what it lacked.
Taking The Recognition Up Several Notches
Hi Roy [there’s the personalization added to the message that was missing in the previous example].
Congratulations on 15 years with Rideau / E2E Group [exactly the same words that were used above, except it didn’t stop there!]. You have accomplished SO much in your time here [acknowledgment of my past contributions], and I want you to know how much we appreciate your continued contributions and successes [appreciation for my present contributions].
You should be very proud of the legacy you’re leaving at our special company. On behalf of our company and our clients [ah, not just recognition from my organization, but also on behalf of the many clients I have continually served over 15-years], THANK YOU.
Cheers! [a warm, personal close].
If we examine the principles behind this personal message, which came from our new organization’s president to me, you will see:
- Personalization by using the person’s name and greeting in the text box of the ecard.
- Specific acknowledgement of the anniversary with the organization.
- Recognizing the individual for their past contributions.
- Recognizing the individual for their present contributions.
- Thanking the individual for all they do on behalf of the organization.
- Where appropriate, thank the individual on behalf of the organization’s customers, clients, or patients, the individual has served.
- End with a warm and personal closing line.
Can you imagine how you would “feel” if you received an ecard with such a message? Yes, it takes a little more time and careful thought. It felt authentic, and I appreciated it.
Adding Thoughtful Comments Along with Liking
Most ecards sent out on online recognition programs appear in the social recognition newsfeed. This allows your colleagues to see that it is your anniversary. In fact, your peers can hit on the heart or star icon to like the message that other people have sent to you. This highlights the icon and shows the name of the person who clicked on it.
I always advocate that besides liking a post or message, that people should also add a comment of their own as well.
Your thoughtful comment does not need to be anywhere near as long as the original sender’s message. Keep your message short and sweet.
Here’s an example of a comment that was added to the previous example I showed you, “Always a pleasure and a great learning experience working with you, Roy! Congratulations on 15 years!!”
Do you see what they did there?
- Description of the positive connection the individual has with the recipient.
- Words that describe the benefits gained from working with the individual.
- Use of the person’s name in the comment.
- Ending off (could also start with this) acknowledging the anniversary.
Unexpected Ecard Messages from Peers
I also received several ecards and emails from various peers and previous bosses that I have worked with over the past 15-years. This meant the world to me.
We’ll dissect one final ecard that stood out for me and see what we gain from it. Are you ready?
Happy Anniversary Roy! [so many people said congratulations that seeing the word “happy” made me smile and it really fit the person who sent the ecard].
You have given great advice and inspiration to all of us. You have always been supportive, always have a fantastic positive attitude and always have a smile on your face. [Three comments that gave a peer’s perspective on what they appreciated about me and my contribution on behalf of the organization]. I enjoyed the chats we had whenever we met at company events because you are easy to talk to and also happen to be super funny! [I liked this personal acknowledgment that conjured up several memories of these events].
I wish you all the best on this special day. [A personal and warm close].
Thank you, [a simple thank you!]
Did you pick up on these lessons to apply to ecard writing?
- Personalization with use of celebrant’s name and a warm greeting.
- Listing of things that you appreciate about the individual.
- Recalling treasured memories and experiences with the individual.
- Personal and warm close.
- Thanking the individual.
I read this ecard several times. It was special to me. In fact, it was the icing on the cake that triggered my wanting to write this post for you.
I sure hope you learned a lot from these examples. Now, go out and share this with others so that you send and receive much better quality, written ecards happening.
Happy anniversary to you whenever yours occurred, or comes up, this year.
Recognition Reflection: Do you provide cheat sheets or guidance on your programs on how to write the perfect anniversary ecard?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.