How to Write an Effective Thank You Note

  1. Written. Emails are easy. Physical mails are worth more. Mail a card.
  2. Appreciation: Clearly express your gratitude. Mentioning the specific action or effort you’re thankful for shows you’re attentive and value their hard work. This aligns with your ethos on recognizing individual contributions to collective success.
  3. Personalization: Tailor the message to the individual, noting how their unique skills or qualities contributed to the achievement. This reflects your belief in the importance of personal development and individual strengths in achieving business goals.
  4. Impact: Highlight the positive impact of their actions on the project, team, or company goals. This echoes your emphasis on results-driven approaches and the importance of each contribution to the broader mission of the firm.
  5. Forward-looking statement: Include a note of encouragement or excitement for future projects or the continuation of their excellent work. It mirrors your forward-thinking attitude and the value you place on growth and continuous improvement.

5 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Employees

  1. Clarity is King: Ensure messages are straightforward and unambiguous. Avoid jargon and complex terms. Clear communication prevents misunderstandings and keeps everyone on the same page.
  2. Active Listening: Encourage a two-way dialogue and show genuine interest in employees’ perspectives and concerns. This approach fosters trust and helps identify issues before they escalate.
  3. Consistent Feedback: Provide constructive feedback regularly. This helps employees understand their performance and areas for improvement, promoting personal and professional growth.
  4. Embrace Technology: Utilize various communication tools (email, instant messaging, video calls) for efficiency. However, remember the importance of face-to-face interactions for more personal or sensitive discussions.
  5. Tailor Your Approach: Recognize that each employee has unique communication preferences. Some may prefer direct emails, while others respond better to in-person meetings. Adapting your style can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your communication.

Leadership Communication: Striking the Right Chord

In the fast-paced world of business leadership, effective communication is the cornerstone of success. Here’s a streamlined guide to help you navigate the do’s and don’ts.

  1. Do: Embrace Brevity and Clarity
    • Time is a premium for everyone. Get straight to the point without sacrificing clarity. Your communication should be like a well-written executive summary: it gives you everything you need to know without wading through the appendix.
  2. Don’t: Drown Your Message in Jargon
    • Technical language has its place, but clear communication is always the priority. Your aim… enlighten not obscure.
  3. Do: Listen Actively and Show Empathy
    • Engage with your team in a way that makes them feel heard and valued. Active listening can lead to more productive collaborations, much like a well-conducted code review session encourages better programming outcomes.
  4. Don’t: Shy Away from Difficult Conversations
    • Address issues promptly and constructively. Avoiding difficult conversations can lead to resentment and disengagement. Approach these situations as you would a complex project: with a strategy, clear objectives, and the willingness to find a solution.
  5. Do: Value Diverse Opinions
    • Foster an environment where different perspectives are not just heard but actively sought. Diverse viewpoints can be the seedbed for innovation, much like diverse testing environments ensure software robustness.

In essence, effective communication for business leaders is not just about the transfer of information but also about building relationships and creating an environment where ideas can prosper. It’s about being succinct yet comprehensive, like a well-commented code that guides rather than confuses. Keep these principles in mind, and watch your team’s productivity and morale soar.

Strategic Communication

When communicating with anyone… employees, customers, friends, or family here are some guidelines to make communication effective.

First, when communicating something that could be perceived either way, do it face-to-face:

When communicating bad news:

  1. Collect all the information to have one conversation vs. a death by 1,000 cuts
  2. Give your customer, employee, partner an option… even if it’s equally disagreeable, they’ll feel better because they had a choice

The Surprising Power of Questions

Did you know that asking questions is a skill that can be honed?

Have you ever thought about the benefits of using questions skillfully at work?

What do you think might be the top five reasons to improve your ability to ask – and answer – questions in the workplace?

Sorry to pepper you with so many questions, but what better way to launch into a post about “The Surprising Power of Questions”? (Oops, I did it again!)

An excellent “Managing Yourself” feature in the 2018 May/June issue of the Harvard Business Review by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John provides the answers to these and other thought-provoking questions.

First, the benefits to skillfully asking (and answering) questions at work:

  • Unlocking hidden value
  • Spurring learning and the exchange of information
  • Fueling innovation and better performance
  • Building trust among team members
  • Mitigating risk by uncovering unseen pitfalls and hazards

So, the benefits are abundant. How do we go about enhancing the power and efficacy of inquiries?  Authors Brooks and John, both professors at Harvard Business School, provide in-depth answers to this question, including a handy chart for both competitive and cooperative conversations. They include common challenges and tactics for handling questions in both types of exchanges.

For example, what to do when a conversational partner is reluctant to share information or may be tempted to lie? They advise:

  • Ask direct “yes or no” questions to avoid evasive answers.
  • Ask detailed follow-up questions to pry out more information.
  • Frame tough questions using pessimistic assumptions to reduce the likelihood that the respondents will lie.
  • Ask the most sensitive question first. Subsequent questions will feel less intrusive, making your partner more forthcoming.

What about when you’re the one in the hot seat? Here are some tactics that everyone could benefit from remembering:

  • Avoid droning on and on. Use energy, humor and storytelling to engage others.
  • Avoid talking too much about yourself and remember to ask questions of others.
  • Deflect tough questions by answering with another question or a joke (if appropriate).

“A conversation is a dance that requires partners to be in sync—it’s a mutual push-and-pull that unfolds over time. Just as the way we ask questions can facilitate trust and the sharing of information—so, too, can the way we answer them,” they note.

Deciding what to share and what to keep private is another important aspect of answering questions in the office (or anywhere else for that matter). I was interested to learn that people “too often err on the side of privacy—and under appreciate the benefits of transparency. Sharing information helps to build trust and keeping secrets depletes us cognitively, interferes with our ability to concentrate and remember things, and even harms our long-term health and well-being,” according to the authors.

All the above reminds me of a great question at our last all company meeting.  One of our senior consultants asked a solid question that I, later, realized many others were thinking.  I gave my best answer at the time which turns out was wrong.  Albert Einstein apparently once said, “Question Everything.” I might add: “Answer questions as completely and honestly as you possibly can.”

The above said, if we’ve answered questions completely and honestly and are wrong, the next steps are to own it, state incorrect assumptions, and share an updated best answer.