Lindsay LaNore: The art of saying “thank you”

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The end of the year is the perfect time to share your appreciation for the hard work and successes of the year gone by.

By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA

It’s the end of the year, a time for leaders to reflect on goals, metrics and performance over the past 12 months. It’s a time to set goals and a vision for the year ahead. And it’s also a perfect time to say, “thank you,” and share your appreciation for all the hard work and successes of the year gone by.

A lot has been written recently about the power of gratitude, with studies showing that appreciation is not only great for team morale; it also gives a boost to the person expressing it. The greatest thing about saying “thank you” is that it’s easy. It’s a very effective way of making your team feel appreciated and happy in their roles. And, while this shouldn’t be the sole motivating factor, employees who feel appreciated are willing to work harder.

In the workplace, saying “thank you” can take all kinds of forms. It can be an email from the CEO to all staff, or from a department leader to their team. It might come in the form of a letter or note, a special lunch, a party, a call-out at a team meeting or a small gift. There is no need to be extravagant, but it should come from the heart.

Will Guidara, restaurateur and author of Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect, is passionate about the power of putting people first. In a recent TED Talk, he told the story of four foodies who were on vacation in New York sampling the best restaurants, including his. Between courses, however, they expressed regret that they were about to head for the airport and hadn’t tried a simple New York City hot dog. He ran out to get them one on the spot. It cost him $2, but the experience delighted his customers and highlighted to him how important it was to make people feel seen.

Guidara suggests to leaders in all industries that they slow down, be present, listen to the people around them and give them a sense of belonging. Treating everyone as an individual is paramount, and that means choosing gifts or experiences that are unique to them.

Great ways of showing appreciation include celebrating specific achievements or actions and highlighting ways in which employees exemplify the bank’s values. Recognize hard work with a small thank-you gift or even a handwritten note, but make sure it’s tailored to suit the recipient, whether it’s a box of chocolates you know they have a weakness for, a gift card to a favorite restaurant that’s a little out of reach financially, or a few extra hours off to watch their child’s holiday performance.

Saying thank you may be easy, but doing it well is an art.

Lindsay LaNore ( is ICBA’s group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer