2017-10-02 Issue 17 Fundamental Behavior 16 – Provide Meaningful Appreciation
Please allow me to over-simplify by saying there are two schools of thought regarding showing appreciation. On the one hand are the people who think, “Why should I thank someone for doing something they should be doing anyway?” I hope you are not in that group. The rest of us see the value in showing appreciation for a job well done, for someone having a consistently positive attitude, or for a generous act that is above and beyond what’s expected. My humble observation over many years is that people need to hear that they are valued and appreciated, and the more appreciation these individuals receive, the more likely they are to continue their good behavior. Let’s be generous in providing meaningful appreciation.
For the purposes of our discussions throughout this week, let’s focus our attention on the people with whom we work. There are so many ways we can show them how much we appreciate them. The obvious way is simply to tell them directly. They might not even be aware that they’ve done anything worthy of our appreciation. Recently I had to make a little speech to a group of YKK colleagues, and one person in the audience made excellent eye contact with me and her facial expressions sent a clear message to me that she was listening to every word I said (FB #15). After my speech, I thanked her for listening so attentively and said, “Every speaker appreciates someone in the audience who really listens and who makes excellent eye contact.”
And we need to make sure that our appreciation is meaningful. For example, maybe it should be written instead of spoken. The easiest (and most popular) method we use is to send an email or a text message. In my opinion, that’s better than doing nothing … but not much better. Frankly, it’s too easy. If you really want to show your appreciation, you’ll write a little note and mail it to them. Just think about your own experiences. If you open your mail at home or at work and there is a short “thank-you” note from someone, doesn’t it hit an emotional spot within you that an email simply cannot reach?
Three weeks ago I attended a meeting of our Safety and Environmental Compliance Committees and listened to them talk about all the details associated with every square inch of our manufacturing facilities. These dedicated men and women work tremendously hard behind the scenes to keep us safe and our environment unpolluted. And after more than seven years of audits and numerous improvements, they were sharing ideas on how to keep us from becoming complacent. It was my great pleasure to have the opportunity to thank them for their hard work on everyone’s behalf.
At that same meeting, something happened that reminded me we shouldn’t wait too long to express our appreciation. As many of you know, on September 10th we lost a dear friend and colleague, Donald Bauer. Donald joined YKK’s Macon plant more than 40 years ago and for years has been our engineering training leader across many technical disciplines for Fastening companies throughout the North and Central America region. He was admired, respected, and beloved for his amazing depth of knowledge and his calm demeanor. His calling was to teach others. He also was one of YKK’s core technical people who played a key role in YKK’s technical development in the NCA region.
At the safety conference, Jim Spry, YKK Macon’s Director of the Engineering Center, told me that a few months ago Donald said to him, “When I was promoted to Technical Engineer, Alex asked me to take the title of TE to a new, higher level of expertise. That has been my goal.” I was not aware of Donald’s comment until I attended the conference with Jim which took place the day after Donald’s funeral (which both Jim and I and many YKK Macon employees attended). As Jim and I were talking, I remembered that earlier this year I signed Donald’s 40-year Length of Service certificate and wrote a note to him thanking him for his many contributions over these 40 years. I thank God that I luckily had the opportunity to share with him my sincere appreciation, and then I wondered if Donald had even received his certificate. Was I too late?
Fortunately, there’s more to the story. As Jim and I were talking, Lee Smith, NCA Fastening’s Vice President of Manufacturing Operations, joined the conversation. I asked Lee if he had presented the certificate to Donald. Lee responded, “I usually wait until the end of the year and present the 40-year certificates to the group at one time. This year, for some reason, I decided to present the certificates in two groups, so yes, I did give the certificate with your comments to Donald. In previous years, he would not have received it yet. He seemed very happy to know his efforts and achievements were appreciated.”
That was a long story intended to make a simple point: Do not delay in showing appreciation.
Chairman and CEO
YKK Corporation of America