December 2014 Newsletter

Thank You: What I Learned About Business from a Shoe Clerk

Are you into clothing trends? Up with what’s in fashion?

That’s not something I generally worry about too much, but recently I decided it was time to jazz up my holiday wardrobe with a pair of trendy boots.

And so, even though I don’t like shopping — I prefer going online — I went to Herberger’s on Black Friday. While there I saw something that impressed me and taught me a lesson about business and giving thanks.

The store overflowed with holiday shoppers. There was a lot of jostling, and I felt extremely fortunate to even get near the sale specials. Eventually I found boots I liked and, spying a harried but enthusiastic young clerk, I asked if she could bring them to me in my size.

She eagerly gathered the boot sample along with several samples from other shoppers and ran off to find footwear for all of us to try.

Returning, she cheerfully juggled helping me with helping others. As each of us made purchases or decided to simply leave, she cheerfully thanked us individually for coming into the department, whether we purchased shoes or not.

And that’s when the lightbulb went on: “That’s the kind of personal courtesy every business should strive for with their employees!”

Not only during this season for giving thanks. Not only after a particularly prosperous year. Not only at times when it’s customary to thank employees.

I’m talking about consistent, frequent, personal showings of appreciation — sometimes even for everyday contributions to the work place.

Interestingly, the wheels of business revolve with such speed these days that many of us roll right past common good manners like saying thank you.

And that’s unfortunate because these pleasantries can give you an edge, when it comes to retaining customers and when it comes to attracting and engaging employees and building their loyalty.

Today, extending common courtesies helps you stand out because so few people express appreciation. A recent etiquette poll, for example, found that nearly half of us don’t always say thanks.

Now don’t get me wrong. I doubt any of us get up in the morning saying, “I think I’ll be rude today.”

But let’s admit it, we don’t always use the manners we should. Certainly, I’m no perfect “Miss Manners.” In the hustle and bustle of daily life, I’m sure I have overlooked many an opportunity to practice good manners.

In our businesses, too, we don’t always seize opportunities to display proper gratitude to our employees.

What if, however, we applied our “holiday manners” to the rest of the year? What if we consistently showed our gratitude to our employees all year long? Now that would be true appreciation.

It really doesn’t take much.

You don’t need to get fancy when you acknowledge an employee’s job well done. Simply grab a Post-it® note, scribble a succinct and sincere thank you, and stick it on his computer screen. Or send a friendly e-card.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money. She’ll spend her gift card and it will disappear, but she’ll post a hand written note in her cubicle where it will stay for a long time.

And the more personal you make it, the better. Handwritten notes, for example, are warmer than pre-printed thank yous.

Here’s the thing. Holiday and end-of-the-year thanks are nice, of course, but when it comes to showing sincere thanks and care, you need to go beyond a perfunctory calendar-driven approach. You need to make genuine care a regular, year-round priority.

Do that and you’ll build and sustain a positive company culture.

It's human nature to try harder to please those who appreciate us than those who ignore us. Take time to thank your employees, and not just during the holidays Have a happy holiday season, and I’ll see you in 2015. — Mary Mary Gorski ♦ MG Assessments, LLC Phone: 952-322-3330 ♦ Cell: 612-810-1293 ♦ Fax: 952-322-3335 E-mail: ♦ Website:

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