Responsible Career Planning: The Power of Saying Thanks At Work

Responsible career planning is mainly determined by what you do today to best position yourself for future career opportunities to get business done better.  One simple thing you can do to emerge as a competent and desirable responsible professional moving forward is to make sure that you are showing how grateful you are for the help you currently receive at work.  Whether you are an individual collaborator or have supervisory responsibilities, the way you thank people around you for their help and contributions will go a long way to build your reputation as a responsible professional that others want on their team.

If you are an individual contributor, your responsible career planning strategy surely focuses on how you can climb to the next level of authority, namely supervising others.  Studies show that 60% of leadership abilities derive from self-leadership.  Therefore, your self-awareness, along with your behaviors and time management skills in the workplace are all key in accelerating your career trajectory in getting business done better.  Did a colleague help you with a piece of software when you were in a bind?  Did your supervisor give you a stretch assignment and then put in the extra time to provide you with a few white papers that helped you learn about best practices in your field?  Or did your supervisor take the time to sit you down and let you know about something you needed to change in your behavior in order to perform better on your job?  These are all opportunities for you to acknowledge how much you appreciate that colleagues, or your boss, take the time to help you learn something new or help you become an even better employee.  This also applies when the feedback is hard to take.  As hard as it might be, just thank the person for his/her feedback, and change what you can change about your own behavior.  Just this step will enable you to set yourself apart from the numerous professionals who would just become defensive or blame others for why a project did not get completed on time, or why they are not getting along well with a specific colleague.  As an individual contributor, a simple responsible career planning strategy is therefore to give thanks at work when others have taken the time to help you out.

If you are a supervisor and have employees that report to you, your focus has certainly shifted.  As a responsible leader, your career planning strategy might have shifted from getting things done on your own to getting things done by putting the right resources and people behind each project you are responsible for.  Unfortunately, you have been asked to do more with less for about two years now, you might have had to let go of good people, and you have not been able to reward your remaining reports for the dedication they have shown at work through the usual incentive of giving raises.  In this climate, you might think that the people that you supervise understand that the fact that they still have a job is a strong signal that they are valued by the organization.  Well it does not work that way.  Studies show that promoting thankfulness and the use of proper manners among colleagues lead to higher retention rate and to higher levels of job satisfaction.   Raises are nice, but they are not enough for employees to feel engaged in their work.  Gallup studies indicate that for most workers, the worst time in their day is the time they spend with their boss.  Spending time with one's boss ranked lower than doing chores or cleaning one's house.  To avoid being one of these bosses, ask yourself the following questions:  Do you spend enough time acknowledging when someone on your team goes beyond the call of duty to deliver on a project?  Do you have the backbone needed to ensure a positive and accountable office culture where all the team members are pulling their weight when collaborating on a project?  If you are not sure, make it a point to add assessing those as part of your responsible career planning strategy.  A first step might be to write a handwritten thank you note of appreciation to your reports and put it on their desks early on Monday.  Another step might be to read and implement some of the guidelines provided in Dave and Wendy Ulrich's 'The Why of Work'.

Whether you are an individual contributor or a supervisor, making a point of adding 'explicitly saying thanks at work' to your career planning strategy is sure to help you emerge as the kind of responsible leader that is dedicated to help their team get business done better!

Photo Credit.