Meaningless Thank-You’s

As a business owner or leader of a team, you are always looking for ways to motivate your employees.  Whether you have a great relationship with those under your wing or not, you will no doubt make an effort to help them be at their best while on the job.  One simple way to motivate and acknowledge what others have done is with a simple “thank you”. We say it daily, for those who open doors for us or bring us food, or anything really that is perceived as a kind gesture.  In those everyday occurrences, a thank-you is a welcome pleasantry. Are there times when thank-you can be harmful? I would argue yes.  


Saying thank-you, or frankly, any attempt to express gratitude or motivate someone in your care without a healthy relationship is pointless.  Put yourself in the employee’s shoes. If your manager has failed to either a) get to know you or has b) failed to attempt to mend a relationship that has gone sour there is no motivator that will spur you on to higher heights.  In fact, the attempts to motivate in those scenarios may have the opposite effect. With each “meaningless thank-you” grows the offendees, disdain for the offender as they think “if they only knew about the time they humiliated me, or I wish they would at least try and ask about what really motivates me”.


As an employer, it is not necessarily your job to cater to every need that your worker bees have, it is however of benefit to you to do as much as you can in this area.  Perhaps employee “A” would much prefer a bonus cheque every month, while employee “B” might enjoy a company BBQ or a flexible schedule.


At the heart of the matter is the idea that it is extremely beneficial to you as a business owner or manager to be personable with your employees.  You may say “It is the employee’s responsibility to come to work motivated and ready to give it their best, plus I pay them well! What more do they need?!”  This is true, and it may have been the standard 20 years ago but that is not what will “get the job done” today.  


Wondering where to start?  Here are 3 ways you can begin to make your “Thank-you’s” mean something…


  1.  Hold regular meetings:  Make it a point to hold regular meetings with each of your employees (or have your managers do this) to go over how their job is going.  Make sure that they are aware that this is what will be happening and do everything in your power to make them comfortable to share whatever is on their mind.  Good and Bad.  
  2. Do Something:  If your employees point out ways that they feel would make work more enjoyable or productive or both, actually do something about it.  Nothing makes them more indifferent than when you ask for advice, they give it, and nothing happens.  
  3. Be Authentic:  People can tell if you’re being fake.  If your employees sense that you’re being nice just because some consultant told you to and not because you genuinely care for them you’ll be hard-pressed to gain their trust and loyalty.  


Brad Thiessen

OnBoard Coaching

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