I’m a big fan of gratitude, thank you very much

Phil Castle

Thank you. Thank you very much.

In case I haven’t expressed my gratitude lately to the readers, advertisers and contributing columnists who make possible the publication of the Business Times, please let me to do so now.

I’m a big fan of gratitude. Of saying thank you. Of acknowledging jobs well done and those who bust their butts to do them.

As much as I’d like to take credit, it’s not like I reinvented the proverbial gratitude wheel. Research and survey results, not to mention mountain ranges of anecdotal evidence, all confirm the power of the simple gesture of saying thank you in motivating employees and increasing sales.

Cindy McGovern, chief executive officer of the Orange Leaf Consulting sales management and consulting firm, wrote the book on this and other related subjects — one titled “Every Job is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work.”

McGovern cites the results of one survey in which more than 20 percent of employees indicated that more appreciation from their bosses would make them happier at work — and, by the way, they’d prefer written or oral thank-yous over gifts or time off. Meanwhile, a larger proportion of employees who said they didn’t feel recognized for their work had recently applied for different jobs than the share of those who said they did feel recognized. According to the results of another study, 70 percent of participants said they’d forgo a 10 percent raise for a kinder boss.

Take a moment to compare the costs of saying thank you to the costs associated with replacing key staff. Yeah. I thought so.

There’s no rocket science or brain surgery involved here. It’s simple: People appreciate feeling appreciated. That makes them want to reciprocate — to let others know they appreciate them, too. It’s part of developing healthy relationships.

So, who do you think will be most willing to go the extra mile the next time you’re in a crunch? The employee you personally thanked for their efforts or the employee you took for granted? McGovern puts it this way: When you say thank you to someone who said yes to a request, you pave the way for the next yes.

I’ve been blessed to work for a lot of gracious employers over the course of my career in newspaper journalism — far more good bosses than bad, thank God. The good bosses all shared one important attribute: They made me feel appreciated.

A publisher with which I worked at a daily newspaper in Northwest Colorado was one of my best bosses in terms of protecting employees. One time when a particularly obnoxious caller complained about something I’d done, the publisher was just as vociferous in my defense. I’ll never forget his facetious retort: “Then we’ll take him out back and shoot him. Is that good enough for you?” We never heard from that caller again.

Another publisher with which I worked at an agricultural weekly in Oregon carried on a tradition I’d encourage every boss to emulate. Every morning he’d come through the newsroom with a pot of coffee and fill the mugs of the reporters who worked there. It wasn’t some elaborate or expensive initiative. But I can confirm from personal experience it was a gracious gesture we treasured. He’s gone now. But if that publisher were to come back and ask me to walk through fire, I’d jump right in, grateful for the opportunity. He was the same publisher who posted a sign in his office that read “eschew obfuscation.” Brilliant.

OK. But what about increasing sales? What does that have to do with saying thank you? A lot. Here are some more research results to consider. While 9 percent of customers said they switched to a competitor because they preferred what was offered, 68 percent said the businesses lost them as customers because they felt unappreciated. Ouch.

According to McGovern, the best salespeople cultivate customers for life by staying in touch with them after the sale. They ask customers if they’re happy with their purchases. If there’s anything else they might need. And they thank them. McGovern says she writes thank-you notes to every client, employee and vendor with which she’s ever done business.

I know a successful business owner in the Grand Valley who makes it a point to thank his customers by bringing them notes and Enstrom toffee. Now that’s appreciation. I appreciate the owner not only for his business acumen, but also his generosity in making this newspaper journalist a frequent flyer in his vintage Piper Cub. I’m never sure what’s going to be more rewarding — the jaw-dropping scenery or engaging conversation.

Now it’s my turn to affirm my appreciation. For reading. For advertising. For sharing your time and talents. In the inimitable words of the late, great Elvis Presley: Thank you. Thank you very much