Executive coach shares: Gift of a handwritten note pays dividends all year long.

In this month’s blog, using a tool from our executive coaching work, we will discuss a rather uncommon but highly effective tool to motivate, inspire, and endear your team.  Every year at this time we have either purchased a gift basket or “jelly of the month club” certificates for our team members.  In the spirit of the holidays those gifts are appreciated and enjoyed.  Usually, by February, though, they are pretty well forgotten.

The reasons for gifts vary all over the place depending on the company or organization.  Below are a few of the most common drivers.

·      Sincere token of appreciation

·      Ritual

·      Annual task or obligation (like bonuses)

The reality is, though, that most fail to accomplish the desired effect.

There is a gift that takes only a little time, costs virtually nothing and has a deep significant impact on your employee.  What is it?  It is a simple “handwritten note.”

Click here to view an article on the power of a handwritten note, highlighting some impacts the notes have.  Forgive the Hallmark plug embedded in the article.

Let me tell you a story.  When I was growing in my career, I always wondered if my boss appreciated my work or valued my uniqueness.  Despite great success, I always found myself sitting at times at my desk early in the morning or late in the evening wondering if it was even noticed.  Then it hit me!  If I felt this way, probably my people did too.  So how could I let them know.

After some thought I committed to write a simple one-page letter to each person on my team.  Now I’m not talking about the Christmas letters we all get from friends sharing how the year has gone with their families but an honest to goodness gut level note.  Now I would be lying if I said it was easy but after starting, they weren’t nearly as hard as I thought they would be especially for an engineer.  In each letter, I thanked them for their hard work, praised them for their strengths, encouraged them, and lastly asked them to help me be a better team leader for them.  I choose the Christmas / New Year’s season to do these letters.  Each person was greatly impacted.  I received comments like, “in my 25 years no one has ever done this”.  Or to my surprise, I had someone pull out their letter in July and say “you know this meant so much to me, I keep re-reading it.”  I continued to do so every year regardless of the company I was at or the situation in the business.

Interestingly a side effect was on the writer himself.  When I stopped in the rush to grow and drive a business, to “see the good” in my team, I felt more relaxed and confident that we were going to be successful.

As for the letter from my boss, well it never came but after writing to my team it did not seem to matter as much.  Do you have an employee wondering?

SPC Consulting offers business strategies for growth, executive coaching, business process improvement guidance for enhanced financial health and organizational alignment for succession planning and improved accountability.