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How can you thank your staff?

Thank you may be among the first words our parents teach us, but as we get older we seem to forget how to say them. As managers, we usually recognize the major achievements--we celebrate the completion of a successful conference, we honor an employee of the month. But how often do we recognize the little steps staff complete along the way?

The best recognition is thoughtful, happens daily, and has a personal touch. Even better, it's usually free. Here are 10 ways to say thank you all along the way.

1. Write it. Six staff members at the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), Southfield, Michigan--working under impossible deadlines--completely revamped an annual publication. The finished product was great, so I wrote each staff member a note thanking him or her not just for the end product, but for working as a team. One staff member cried when she read it. That's when I knew that I don't say thank you enough.

2. Have someone else say it. Draft a letter to be signed by your chief executive officer or board chair, or arrange a telephone call from them to an employee. Share thank-you letters from members, vendors, and board members. AIAG, for example, invited its chair to attend a luncheon during the association's annual development meeting. Our chair listened to staff concerns and praised them for their work.

AIAG's "Kudos" program also recognizes exemplary performance. An employee may send his or her manager a form explaining how a colleague has gone beyond the call of duty. I reward the staffers for their exceptional efforts with a Kudos snack bar. In january, we place the names of Kudos recipients in a hat. We draw one name, and the winner receives two complimentary round-trip airline tickets.

3. Send them home. We're all pulled in many directions today--work, home, children, and elder care. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for someone who has put in extra time on a special project is give him or her a little more time off.

4. Bring in food. Take an individual or a team to lunch to get a break in the middle of a project. Buy pizza for the entire staff, or have a birthday party. Bake cookies, brownies, or muffins and leave them in the coffee room with a thank-you sign.

5. Declare a casual day. AIAG feels it's important to keep a professional image, since members often visit our office. But it's a special treat for employees to come in business-casual attire once in a while. So AIAG declares a casual day when one of its top prospects joins, the day before we hold our annual open house, and the day after we complete our audit.

6. Help an employee develop professionally. Send a staff member to a job-related seminar or conference. We make sure each AIAG staff member attends at least one professional development seminar a year. Or take your employees to visit vendors or members to help broaden their understanding of the profession.

7. Share information. Provide information to staff through regular, meaningful staff meetings, group planning sessions, and so forth. Pass on information received at other meetings and make sure individuals understand how their work affects the team. At AIAG staff meetings, a different employee gives a short presentation each month about what he or she does at our organization.

8. Give a small gift. Make the gift something meaningful--a bag of mixed nuts for putting up with the nutty telephone calls last week, a giant cookie for building up energy following a large mailing, or a new pen for writing more great copy.

9. Get involved. Help your staff stuff envelopes for a big mailing, pitch in during cleanup, or take member telephone calls one day. AIAG has a policy that when a staff manager declares "all hands," a crisis requires the help of everyone, including managers.

10. Say it. What's the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to thank your staff? Say the words.

Darlene M. Miller is an IBM manager on loan as managing director to the Automotive Industry Action Group, Southfield, Michigan.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Miller, Darlene M.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:686
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