Recognise This! – Written messages of thanks – especially specific and timely appreciation – carries more weight over the long term than casual “thanks.”

Are you an appreciative person? Do you generally make an effort, even go out of your way, to express to others you notice their efforts and are grateful for them? If so, are you consistent in your attitude of appreciation across all realms? Are you generally as appreciative of others in your work environment as you are with your family or friends?

I ask because I’ve often noticed people who tend to be appreciative with family and friends – or even with wait staff in restaurants – are often not as appreciative with those they work with every day. There are many reasons why this might be true: company culture or norms, perceived difficulty in doing so, or simply feeling awkward.

Of course, a casual, verbal “Thank you, Sam. I appreciated what you did in the meeting today” is always valuable and worthwhile. A written word of thanks and appreciation, however, carries much greater weight.

In a TLNT post, Ron Thomas shared the story of a friend who received a written note of praise and encouragement from her boss and the impact:

“This executive who took the time to send the note showed what true leadership is about… The recipient of the note was so proud of her work. When I remarked about the type manager that she had, she said, ‘Oh, she sends them to me all the time when I do a great job on a project. When there is a concern, she also sends a note.’”

Ron concludes his post by pointing out the objective of written feedback:

“Your objective in giving feedback is to provide guidance by giving information in a timely manner, either to support effective behaviour or to guide someone back on track toward successful performance.”

Guiding behaviour – that’s the goal of strategic, social employee recognition, especially guiding behaviour in line your organisation’s core values. It’s not casual. It’s fundamentally important to your company’s ability to achieve your strategic objectives through your employees’ daily actions and behaviours.

On today’s Globoforce Blog, my colleague Darcy Jacobsen wrote in greater detail on the history of the written word and why it carries such weight, concluding:

“Writing drives behaviour partly because we attach such tremendous significance to writing. Writing has always legitimised and validated our ideas and actions… Written words make us think. They make us change our behaviour. They mean more to us because we are hard wired to take them seriously. So when we take the time to write them to one another in the form of recognition, we are taking part in an age old process. When we write out words of appreciation and recognition, we are codifying and legitimising the behaviour we see, and giving all of our employees the opportunity to reflect on it meaningfully. It pushes us, as writing always has, to the next level.”

The Bottom-Line: Remember these three critical attributes of written employee appreciation and recognition:

  1. Formalises the appreciation, lending weight to your words
  2. Offers a means for reflection by the recipient in the future
  3. Lets others add their own words of praise on top of yours

Is formal, written appreciation and employee recognition part of your company culture? What’s the most meaningful recognition you’ve ever received at work?