I wish I could remember how, over the Christmas Holidays just past, we got onto the subject of bestowing tokens of appreciation to those who “deliver”. By delivery I mean those who labor to allow us the comforts and conveniences of special occasions like Christmas. So during our family gathering at dinner last month on the 25th, the discussion around the table listed the following recipients of special family thanks: UPS drivers (thanks Amazon), US postal carriers (18 million packages delivered December 24), lawn care crews, household help, paper carriers and restaurant busboys and busgirls.
The relevance of this subject to organizational leadership is the importance of thanking employees for “delivery”… typically bestowed this time of year as year-end bonuses. That ritual brings to mind an old business tip commonly heard in my formal technical career led by engineers was “a bonus … why, they get a paycheck don’t they?” Maybe my experience was isolated, but I found a thoughtful gesture of appreciation was rare then. Oh well, it inspired me to start this business to fix that. There is a right way and a wrong way to say thank you. The key, I believe is in the motive of the giver. It’s not the gift (or tip) itself, rather what does it mean? Why is it being presented? Haven’t you heard the stories of year-end bonuses being unappreciated? About this time last year this Forbes article by Glen Tullman reinforced how a company’s purpose around the expression is the key to lasting impact.
This triggers my recollection of the first time I ever heard the story of the origination of the word “TIP” which reportedly means “to insure promptness”. The story was told by personal development master, Jim Rohn. Jim’s context to his story recounted an incident where he was hosting an important business prospect at dinner and how he discreetly tipped the waiter in advance and explained to her how important she was to the success of the evening. As I listened to that Nightingale Conant recording, Rohn was establishing and reinforcing a positive expectation and more importantly giving the waiter ownership of that evening’s success. Big difference, in contrast to many who might have said to her “if you don’t screw up there is potentially a big tip if all goes perfect!” See the difference in motive?
Meanwhile, back at the dinner table. Apologies for a little indulgence, but it pleased me, as the family patriarch that evening, that the tipping gestures by the family were universally bestowed as expressions of genuine appreciation. Heart-to-heart, get it? So I believe tipping is a gift when presented with a thankful heart. There are three appropriate components of expressing appreciation … pertinent to families or businesses. First is a sincere motive of gratitude. Second, is the gift itself … tailored in value and taste. Yes, why not six packs of adult beverages to crews who will imbibe, with family and friends, in celebration of hard work valued, and in accordance with their tastes and traditions? This season I bestowed custom cutout cookies and was the appreciative recipient of Larsen’s baked goods, Sanders’ peppermint bark and homemade fudge! The choices were the outcome of thoughtfulness – a valued human attribute! Finally, the third: when possible, express gratitude in person, face-to-face.
A “TIP”: for 2015, be generous throughout the year with thoughtful praise and thanks to those who deliver for you! “Pay-it-forward” is always reciprocated!