You can’t swipe through inc.com; hbr.org or entrepreneur.com on your iPad without stumbling directly into an article about the significance culture plays in an organization.
I think we all “get it.” Culture is as important, and some even believe more important, than strategy. I tend to agree. I don’t believe a company can execute its business strategy without highly motivated and driven people, and that motivation and drive can only come from building the kind of culture that encourages desired behaviors. A healthy culture is one where people genuinely care about the organization to which they belong; one where everyone believes in, and understands, the organization’s vision and purpose. Culture cannot be purchased through competitive comp packages, nor can it be driven by autocratic leadership or intimidation. It can only develop and flourish under a high E.Q. leadership model where people are trusted, respected and encouraged to do what they were hired to do. Most importantly, an ideal culture will flourish when employees receive frequent, quality feedback while being recognized for performance.
Recognition ranks among the top three things employees value the most from their employer, and in some cases, is even more valued than salary. Although face-to-face recognition is always the most appreciated, a very close and near equal runner-up is the hand-written note recognizing and thanking someone for something they did that made a positive impact on you, your company, their colleagues or a customer. But, is it better than an email? I think the answer is rather obvious. (Are Happy Birthday emails as meaningful as receiving a card in the mail?)
Try it. Write a thank-you note today to someone in your company who did something exemplary that merits recognition. It is easier than you think. Just follow this structure to write a meaningful and sincere thank-you note:
- Write what you are thankful for, and be specific. (e.g. “I want to thank you for the way you…”)
- Let the person know how their action(s) made a positive impact on the company and/or another person.
- Close with a statement of appreciation. (e.g. “I appreciate your commitment to…”)
It’s that simple. You can be guaranteed that the employee who receives your note will continue to perform beyond expectations, and his or her colleagues will also be encouraged to perform beyond expectations so they, too, can receive recognition from the top.
Next step – send a .jpg of your logo to a printer, have them print 20 thank-you cards for every employee in your company, and let your employees know you’d like to start a “Thank-You” culture. Therefore, if you have 140 employees, print 2,800 cards. They are ridiculously cheap, and the ROI will come in the form of improved morale, increased productivity, and stronger relationships between employees and management. However, a thank-you culture, or any kind of culture for that matter, cannot be forced. It is something that can only happen naturally, much like the way friendships are formed. Culture needs to be established and led from the top down, across management, and spread among all employees.
As the CEO or leader of your company, challenge yourself to write one thank-you note a week, at the very least. One note a day would be even better, and easier to do once you witness the impact a thank-you culture has on the attitudes and behaviors of everyone throughout your organization.