Remember to say ‘thank you’ even when an employee is just doing her job

“That’s her job, why should I have to thank her for something she’s already being paid to do?”

It’s a common question I hear. Some managers feel that a paycheck is adequate acknowledgment in return for the work that an employee was hired to do. Or that by executing the job requirements is an expectation of being employed, therefore a ‘thank you’ should only happen when the employee does something special, additional, or goes above and beyond the normal.

Money is an important baseline for any employment arrangement, but it doesn’t fulfill a basic human need we have for wanting to know we are appreciated and valued. Saying ‘thank you’ is also an essential way to provide feedback to others, especially when they have done something that you really appreciate.

That’s the case with my recent “Deck the Poles” project. I compensated the work of others who helped, but paying them seems like such an empty way to express how much I appreciated the quality and effort of what they did. And when you walk by the pole, there is no way to communicate the deep thanks I had to everyone who helped. This video is one way for me to say thank you to the talents of those that contributed!

There is one ‘thank you’ that is NOT included in the video — on purpose.

When I thought of creating a video, I knew I didn’t have the skills to pull it off. [So here I go again, having an idea to create something that I’ve never done before (like decorating a lamp post!). How can you blame me, though? That pole turned out pretty good, thanks to others!]

In my quest to find a resource willing to work with my desired [yes I mean cheap] budget, I made an inquiry to someone who knows a lot about video production. He introduced me to the talented folks in the multimedia department at our local school district, who just happened to be looking for a project. When possible, the teacher brings in real-life projects to make the class learning, well, real. Perfect fit!

For this assignment, a student in the multimedia class took my pictures and video and edited them into the marvelous video production of ‘Chase Your Dreams’ that you (hopefully) just watched. What’s so admirable to me is that she bravely took on the assignment, having very little experience, and ran with it (pun intentional). I felt the editing she did of the various pieces was incredibly well done. She brought together the still pictures (and arguably not the most interesting ones because many were similar by virtue of the process), the video clips (ok, I thought those were cool, I love watching Grace running on a mission), the copy to thank others, and the music: she melded it all together seamlessly to record the event.

I wanted to thank this student with a credit in the video, but she declined. Some people don’t want public recognition and that’s perfectly fine. Managers might confuse that with thinking an employee doesn’t need to be acknowledged in any way. Don’t make that mistake. There are a number of valid reasons that a person doesn’t want to be called out publicly, but always find some way to express your thanks.

Be sure to express your gratitude, whether you’ve given them a paycheck or not, and even if it’s just a required assignment. It will encourage that person to chase their dreams, more fully and with a sense of direction. There could be nothing wrong with that.

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4 comments

    • Robin says:

      Karen, oh my, what a great point. Volunteering is a very special time to ensure we say thanks! Thank YOU for bringing that up. 🙂

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