Try picking up the pen…


The other day I received a hand-written note on a simple card from some one I met just briefly at a recent conference. Wow! I hadn’t seen one of those since my Grandmother wrote me a thank you note for my Christmas present to her last year. Here’s this person I’ve spent all of 15 minutes with who takes the time to compose and write a thoughtful message, put it in an envelope, address it, find and lick a stamp, and get it to the mailbox. When compared to what it takes to send a Tweet or an Email, the effort alone is commendable. But what it really says is that the sender cares enough about me to make that effort. I think I got all misty-eyed when I read it. It may not take a lot to get me excited, but I’ve been reflecting on that gesture for days now.

When’s the last time you sent a thank you note to one of your employees? Not an Email…a hand-written note? Do you encourage your managers to do the same? Do you hold them accountable for doing so? What about your CEO, President, or other fearless leader? How often do they send out written notes to their constituents? Would you rather get a hand-written note from your supervisor thanking you for your contribution or some silly gift certificate to God-Forsaken Applebees? I’m glad the HR community is finding ways to leverage the wonders of social media to enhance workplace communications. But be cautious, my friends; those technologies should be merely a compliment to a diverse portfolio of communications channels. And like it or not, I think hand-written communications should still be a fairly sizable portion of that portfolio. It just seems to carry a bit more weight – particularly when it involves recognizing and rewarding some one for their dedication, commitment, and slave-like labor on behalf of the organization. Aside from the simple fact that she loves you, Grandma writes those thank you notes because she really means it and she wants to make sure you know it. Wouldn’t it send the same message to our employees?

Photo Credit: Baudville

4 Responses to Try picking up the pen…
  1. Dave Ryan
    July 15, 2010 | 7:29 am

    You are right Charlie it seems like a little thing but it means a lot. We still send birthday and employee anniversary cards to employees. This generates about as much interaction between labor and management as anything else we do. And when someone goes above and beyond we encourage supervisors to mail a card with a hand written message. :-)

  2. Charlie
    July 16, 2010 | 6:44 am

    @Dave – thanks for validating written recognition matters. i’m glad you’re doing it and hope it will inspire some others to do the same.

  3. John Dye
    July 19, 2010 | 9:41 am

    Great article! Gratitude is the key! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Charlie
    July 19, 2010 | 12:04 pm

    @john – genuine gratitude is so hard to come by. written notes seem to authenticate that gratitude just a bit more…thanks for the comment.

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