Management 101

In November, I got to thinking about the end of the calendar year and how hard my own work team has been pulling to keep our program going, supporting end users, and picking up the slack when others have left the group.

They are a resilient little team (I mean little in numbers) and I’m proud of them.

I asked the Boss of my Boss if we had some sort of recognition program. He said, “oh yes, we do spot bonuses. Talk to so-in-so and they can provide you with some gift cards to hand your employees.”

I was pretty stoked. I figured these gift cards might be $100. Or maybe, you know, $50. Not much, but enough to make a difference.

So I contacted so-in-so and wrote up my justification and was handed some gift cards.

They are $25 each.


Ok, I know $25 is still better than a kick in the shins, but I worried that handing out $25 would be less of a thank you and more of a “why bother”? Given how hard this crew has been working and the success they saw last year, would a $25 gift card be an insult?

Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be all I could do for my employees under “official” program at of my very cheap frugal cost-conscious company.

This week, with everyone back in the office after the holiday break, I decided to hand out the gift cards along with a hearty thank you.

I went to each person on my team and I talked to them about how hard they worked and said “I’d like to give you this. I’m sorry it’s not very much, but it’s the best I can do under the official auspices.”

Every member of my team was incredibly grateful and dare I say excited to get an “official” bit of recognition for a job well done.

As one woman leapt from her chair to hug me and thank me over and over, I was stunned.

How could she be so thrilled over a puny $25 gift card?

I puzzled over it and thought about it and pondered.

Today, on my afternoon walk around the lake, I figured it out.

These wonderful, hardworking, amazing people are simply happy to be recognized.

This is the power of saying (and meaning) the words Thank You.

I knew this mattered, I really did. I try very hard as a manager to remember to say thank you and mean it. But even I forget.

My very humble team gave me a good lesson. They took me back to Management 101, and for that I’m filled with gratitude.

(Should I remind my own manager that I also tend to work harder with a few “thank yous” along the way?)

Image via Abstruse Goose.

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  • Nadine in Nevada

    You are so right. Some managers just don’t realize that a “Thank You” every so often goes a looooong way. I was always more willing to go the extra mile for the manager who said thank you after the job was complete. :)

    You sound like a very caring and respectful manager. :)

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Nadine – I’m sure that sometimes I’m also “that crazy b*tch asked me to do what!?!??!” But thanks for the good words.

      I’ve had great managers in my career. I’ve had crap managers in my career. I learned a lot from both.

  • Emmett

    We don’t get paid overtime, but we work a bit of it. The maddest I’ve seen people of late was when our internal accounting changed and we no longer logged those unpaid hours.
    Same kind of puzzle.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Emmett – That is a great story, and it really points out the value of recognition.

      For a brief while, I worked for a company that gave out huge bonuses. I mean, they were ridiculously large. And there was nothing tied to the bonuses, best to worst workers all got paid these huge chunks of cash on an arbitrary basis.

      This did NOTHING to make that team better workers, in fact just the opposite. These folks would go out of their way to be obstinate because they knew they would be paid anyway.

      Recognition, genuine recognition, certainly goes a long way. This is all a good reminder for me.

  • Ur bro

    Every Chinese New Year I buy fancy cards and a small gift card from a local store and I compose a short letter. Not to my team members, but to their significant others. My team gets a nice performance based bonus, but what recognition does the wife get after a year of her husband working long hours and traveling all over while she tries to keep the family going?

    The letter goes something like this: Dear Mrs Lee, I want to take a minute to thank you for your support of Rob over the past year. I know that this has been a busy and stressful time, but Rob has done a great job and you should be very proud of him. I also know it is not easy on you having him gone so much, so enclosed is a small token of my appreciation. Thank you so much. If er is ever anything I can do to help you, especially when Rob is out of town, please don’t hesitate to call me. Sincerely,

    For my single team members I write their parents. Amazing the reaction I get. I have had wives and moms calling me in tears thanking me for thinking odd them.

    This year for the first time I get to write such a letter to a husband. Should be fun…

  • Ur bro

    Damn iPad keyboard and auto correct…..

  • Anji

    A little thank you goes a long way.

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