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The surprising impact of sending thank you notes

Jehad Affoneh
Jehad Affoneh
3 min read
The surprising impact of sending thank you notes

Every week, I spend fifteen to thirty minutes sending thank you notes. I send them to members of my team, the larger cross-functional teams, and others across the organization. It's become a ritual for me and a ritual that is both satisfying and pays dividends in my relationships across the org.

I started this ritual a few months ago with very little expectations beyond rewarding folks I or my team interact with for the work they do on weekly basis. Much of what we do impacts a lot of people yet it goes by without any emotional reward. This seems off to me.

You know how when someone is about to leave, thank you notes and goodbye parties appear out of nowhere? People thank them for their impactful work and share with them stories of how they've been able to significantly influence their journey. It's not that it's too late, a thank you is never too late. It's that a thank you's impact might've meant the difference between a regular week and a great week. A thank you note could've been the difference between someone quitting a behavior or doubling down on it.

I noticed this the more time I spent with more folks across the organization and decided to make a habit of sending 3 - 5 thank you notes every single week.

I usually focus on team members or their cross-functional partners. I decide who I am going to send thank you notes to based mostly on the feedback I am receiving from folks on my team.

Every week, each one of us has a conversation or two about how someone did a great job yet we rarely spend the time to truly make an impact in their life by thanking them for it. It takes so little time yet it's so important.

Make your thank you note impactful

To make thank you notes impactful, make sure to consider the following:

  1. Thank people for specifics. The specifics make it real. Sending a generic thank you note has little impact beyond acknowledging they are good at what they generally do. The specifics is what makes it about what they've been able to accomplish or do.
  2. Include their manager or leader on the note. Standing up for them doubles the value of your thank you.
  3. Tell them how you got to know about their work. Knowing that a good deed travels far means they'd want to do it again even if you're involved.
  4. Be genuine. You are sending this note not simply to build a relationship but because you truly appreciate the work they've done.

The effect goes far beyond you expect

The effect of a simple act of a few minutes goes far beyond you'd ever expect. Most of us have an amazing impact on others in ways we never know. These notes not only make someone's day, they could change the way we think about how we act and what we do.

Standing up for people, especially by making sure their managers or teams know about it, makes a huge difference in their relationship with you, your team, and the rest of the organization.

In my experience, this is not only true for junior folks but it's as true for senior folks who generally do lots of "thankless" but good work.

Try it

Try it next week. Simply schedule a 15 - 30 minutes meeting on your calendar to block the time. I usually do that on Fridays. Then listen to your team as they talk about their experiences working with other team members and pay attention to why. Follow up with them and let them know you'd like to send a thank you note to folks working with them that make an impact, then just watch the magic happen!