Is there someone on your team or in your network who has recently gone above and beyond? We all know someone we’d rave about if asked—so why wait until we’re prompted to show appreciation? Don’t just sing their praises out loud; put it in writing! A heartfelt, genuine note about one’s work can be such a gift. It not only brings joy in the moment, but can also be helpful when it’s time for a promotion, a job hunt, or a morale boost during a tough time at work.
Want to let someone know you’ve noticed their efforts? Try out one of these suggestions.
1. The personal note
When was the last time you got a personal thank-you card? In the actual mail, with a postage stamp and everything? I still remember the last heartfelt, handwritten thank-you I received—and the person who sent it, too. I kept it on my bulletin board in my office for almost a year, and I thought of that partner nonprofit, and the leader who wrote it, every time I saw it.
A personal thank-you that moves someone should have substance, specificity, and feeling.
“Dear [COLLEAGUE NAME],
When you invited me to guest speak at to your class, I was honored. But that opportunity to raise awareness about my organization and our mission turned into much more—afterwards two of your students contacted me about an internship and special research project. I really appreciate your vote of confidence in me as a guest speaker, and I am so excited and thankful for the student connections this helped create. Their work helped us better understand the attrition rate for our program and make adjustments that improved our completion rate, and our impact. Thank you for being a thoughtful partner and colleague!”
2. The LinkedIn recommendation
Love it or hate it, LinkedIn can be a really valuable tool for networking and landing a job you want. When you write a thoughtful, high-quality LinkedIn recommendation for someone, it’s as good as gold. Not only can people like recruiters or interviewers view their profile, the person you write the recommendation for can use it on their website, resume, and other places that help build their credibility and visibility. This is more than just “endorsing” someone you know for a particular skill like public speaking or grant writing
Of course, since LinkedIn is public, it reflects on the recommender, too—and sets the tone for what kind of recommendation they might write for you in return. Make sure you do a specific and enthusiastic job at the task!
“[COLLEAGUE NAME] is an operations wiz who’s been keeping our office moving smoothly and efficiently since the day she joined our team. She streamlined our invoicing methods, brought us into the 21st century with a new online payroll system and direct deposit, and built relationships with our regular vendors that have helped save the organization money.”
3. The Facebook review
Thank you’s and recognition can build the credibility of organizations as well as individuals—and sometimes both at the same time. Reviews are one of the first things that appear when you visit a Facebook business page. Consider rating and reviewing a colleague’s organization on Facebook, and give them a shout-out for a job well done within your review.
“I have had the pleasure of working with [ORGANIZATION] during our winter coat drive, and I am so impressed by how organized and energetic their whole team is—and especially [COLLEAGUE NAME]. He communicates proactively and clearly with drop-off volunteers so they know what to do and what to expect, and always has a heart-felt "thank you" for everyone making a donation or volunteering their time.”
4. The email to their supervisor
This last tactic is widely underappreciated and underused. Most of us don’t like to “brag” about ourselves, so we’re not exactly tooting our own horn at the office. Think about how great it would feel to hear positive feedback from your boss that someone else had relayed to them directly. This can be especially important for folks who have more internal-facing work that is vital to the mission, but not visible in the same way as program staff.
“Dear [SUPERVISOR NAME],
I just had to send a note to you to let you know how helpful, organized, and kind your front desk staff [COLLEAGUE NAME] is. We had a miscommunication on our end about the meeting last week, and she got us straightened out and back on track without missing a beat. What a great asset you have in your organization!”
There’s no time like the present to send a little kindness and gratitude out into the world! So stop waiting and start writing!
Have you ever expressed your appreciation for a colleague—or had someone do the same for you? Tell us about it on Twitter.
Ashley Fontaine is a writer, mental health professional, and former nonprofit executive director. She’s on a mission to eliminate “we’ve always done it that way” from our collective vocabulary by helping leaders focus on possibilities rather than limitations. She believes organizational culture is the key to productivity and staff retention.