When Was the Last Time You Wrote Your Boss a Thank You Note?

It is important to remember that recognition is not just a top-down phenomenon. 

Recognition is everyone’s responsibility. Which makes it a practice that is multi-directional. So much so that recognition needs to go up, sideways and down, and around to everyone. 

And, yes, recognition, praise, and thanks should go to your immediate supervisor or manager. 

We can demand that others should recognize employees, but rarely do we educate and teach staff to remember to acknowledge and thank their own bosses. 

Too often there is the idea that if you praise or thank a boss for something that you are just trying to get brownie points. This means the employee giving this recognition is just trying to score points with or please their boss for ulterior motives. 

It would be like sending your compliments and thanks to the chef, who prepared a great main course meal at a restaurant. The intent is literally to express admiration for the amazing work and preparation for the fantastic tasting meal. At no time was the restaurant patron trying to get a dessert on the house.

It is important that your intention in recognizing a leader or manager be appropriate with no manipulation or insincerity.

Here are some questions to think about when writing a thank you note or online ecard to your boss or a leader within the organization. 

Where would you be without their advice or help? 

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”Charles Dickens 

Imagining your state of being if they had not helped you is a great source of perspective taking. You can state your angst for how you felt beforehand and your relief at what they did. This allows you to capture the depth of your feelings.

Noting the before and after state of your mind and actions prior to their help is a good way to express your thoughts in your thank you note. 

Have you expressed how grateful you are?

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”William Arthur Ward

In our fast pace world that is often filled with negativity, it is important to stop and count our blessings. Think on how often you express your gratitude to the people around you and those who have directly made a difference in your work world. Is this something that is a habit for you? If not, use whatever techniques you need to remind yourself to express your gratitude to those around you. 

Did you acknowledge their time in doing what they did?

“The time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something.”–Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

One thing for sure in life is that another person’s time is precious. When you look at what managers or leaders have on their plate, it is amazing how they get so much done. And when work piles up and they don’t complete the tasks before them, you know their time is even more valuable. 

When they give of their time to direct, assist, advise, and suggest things to you, they are sacrificing their time. Others have described sacrifice as giving up something good for something better. Here, the better was for you.

Besides the benefit of their actions, thank them for the time they gave so freely to you as well.

What inspiration have their actions given you?

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”Albert Schweitzer

Whenever someone stops to help me or give suggestions, I feel good inside. Their actions lift me up and motivate me to want to do my best work. Try to get into the habit of expressing your appreciation in the moment. When their help and guidance proved beneficial, make sure that you also write a thank you note to them as well. 

We all live and work in remote worlds, whether assigned to home or throughout our global organizations. Receiving a handwritten thank you note will be a tremendous surprise no matter where a leader or manager works. 

Are you open to thanking everyone no matter their position in the organization?

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”Maya Angelou 

Thanking a senior leader or your manager should not differ from expressing appreciation to a peer or the person from housekeeping services. All of us are human beings and get dressed the same way every day.

You will always make the recipient’s day extra special, whether you acknowledge them verbally or in writing. And I want you to know that leaders and managers rarely receive recognition. In one breath, they may not need it as much. It is amazing the affect it has on leaders and managers when they receive it. 

When I worked in healthcare, I once wrote a well thought out thank you note to my vice president of administration. They had taken the time to explain the outcome of the impending layoffs, of which I was a part. She was sensitive and clear. She also gave her time to find out what my decision would be, and I appreciated her support. 

The interesting thing was that my thank you note stood up on her desk blotter for many months. I don’t know if she rarely received note cards or not, but I think this one meant a lot. 

At another time, I wrote a letter to a different leader expressing my sincere appreciation for bringing me on board to their company. It was a turning point in my life and their actions changed my life. I shared those sentiments. 

Down the road, they invited me to dinner at their home. He pointed out how he had framed my letter and it now hung in his home office.

Writing handwritten notes to a leader or your manager can change their lives, too. Make time if you have never done this before or if your boss is overdue on receiving thanks from you.

Recognition Reflection: When did you last write a thank you note to a leader or manager who deserved your appreciation?

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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