Teamwork: Co-Worker Care


It’s at the core of what teamwork is all about; first and foremost. Caring for others on your team with whom you work from the time you greet each other until you part for home.

Teamwork is so essential to working productively and successfully that it’s almost a given in every job posting you’ll read these days. Oddly enough however, when it comes to providing an interviewer with concrete, specific examples of teamwork, many people I speak with struggle. Many tell me that they don’t really have experiences working on major projects, taking the lead on initiatives where they delegated responsibilities etc. While those are examples of working on teams, they are but two ways to demonstrate teamwork. However, there are other, and I will argue much more significant ways to demonstrate your effectiveness as a valued team member.

Just yesterday, one of my colleagues was off work unexpectedly. In addition to her absence, our team had two people on vacation, one working at a second location and we’re currently short one person on our team until a replacement is hired. With our supervisor off for the day, it fell to those of us working to shore things up. As it happened, another colleague and I had a scheduled meeting in the morning on-site, which meant for us both to attend, we’d need a co-worker to staff our Resource Centre for an hour or two with our placement student alongside.

So up stepped one of my valued colleagues; happily and willingly able to set aside the time she’d counted on to do some planning. After our meeting was over, I returned to take my place. While the meeting had kept me away for an hour and half, all had gone smoothly for my colleague. Except, honestly…we’re all stretched a little thin these days, and we’ve been over-extending ourselves for quite some time. As it turned out, that time she gave up to cover was really needed to regain a measure of control and feel prepared for what she had going on later in the afternoon.

As it happened, my colleague started sharing with me just how stretched to the limit she feels. Not only was she stretched thin at work, but a prolonged home renovation is also going on, and I immediately knew that this meant there was no place for her to relax and recharge; what home should be. As she talked, I could see the visible signs of stress; talking rapidly, nervous laughter mixed with big gestures and just venting. This is good; this is healthy, this is sharing a burden and reality with a listener that cares.

Aside from listening, I could really empathize with her because as I say, we’re all feeling stretched and I’ve been through reno’s at home. Throw in the emergence of the Christmas season, decorating a home, taking on a responsibility at work I’m aware of, and I could immediately get a feel for what she was feeling. By allowing her to share, she actually started to feel better. Then she did something I found intelligent and kind. She asked if I wouldn’t mind allowing her to go to lunch when I’d planned to, meaning my own lunch would be set back an hour. How is this kind? It gave me a chance to do something tangible to help.

While gone, I spoke with our placement student; a smart, aspiring young woman who has her own sights set on working in the field and with whom I can see myself working alongside. Here was a teachable moment. Having seen and overheard much of this interaction, I pointed out that this is exactly how to demonstrate care for one another as teammates. It’s funny how many of us are comfortable saying we love our jobs, we love our work, but the thought of saying we love our co-workers sounds odd if not just plain wrong. Well, it’s little things we do like letting each other vent, putting the needs of another ahead of our own etc. that demonstrate care and love for one another. It was important to put a label on this. “Loving” your co-workers isn’t likely on the University curriculum.

While sitting there awaiting her return so I myself could go for lunch, I got a text from my colleague. It was a picture of her lunch, with the words, “Feeling relaxed. Thank you”. I grinned and felt a measure of happiness for her. That’s all it took to bring control back. When she returned, she brought a tea for me, a coffee for our student and I even got a hug of thanks. That too is love and care reciprocated.

Now this isn’t monumental teamwork that saved the company thousands of dollars or brought some new client onboard. This is an example of everyday, small but significant interactions where you can either step up and support one another with genuine care for your coworkers, or you can say, “Not my problem – I’ve got my own problems. I’m going for my lunch now. See you in an hour.”

It’s the little things we do – you and I – throughout a day that over time become our reputation. When you pitch in, cover, listen, empathize, extend help, support each other, encourage each other – these I argue are the testaments of your teamwork.

On every team, some will get it and some won’t. Be one who does.

Sorry Team, Not My Best


Yesterday I wasn’t at my best near the end of the day for my teammates. Ironically the reason why was precisely because all through the day, I’d been at my best for a number of people. I found myself jumping from one person to another, expending a lot of ‘me’, without time to pause, reflect, debrief and center myself. My 11 years plus office mate I historically debriefed with has moved on.

It started at 7:40 a.m. and ran right through until I shut down during a team meeting around 3:15 p.m. At 4:10 p.m., I walked out the doors where I work and carried it right into the usual transition sanctuary of my car. It wasn’t until early evening at home, cup of orange pekoe in my hands that I worked through the days stories and gave them up.

Like me, you’ve had those days where you too gave a sizable portion of yourself to others, beyond your typical capacity? At some point, your saturation level was reached, yet you were pushed beyond into your reserves and without your typical full self-awareness, that one extra thing came your way. And it’s that one extra thing that causes us to either shut down or act in some way we wouldn’t typically. The proverbial straw that breaks the camels back.

The weird thing about yesterday was I’d sum it up as a good day for the most part. It sure didn’t go the way I’d drawn up the day in my mind when arriving at 7:30 a.m. though.

I’ve already worked through a full day yesterday twice; experiencing it live and working it through in the sanctuary of home last night. I’ve no desire to lay it out here a third time. Suffice to say, in addition to the regular responsibilities of the day, 4 people unexpectedly shared with and entrusted to my keeping, their own substantially heavy life events.

Now this is a privilege; to be the one person who comes to mind when a crisis comes up and help is needed. I’m so thankful that I’ve done enough in the past that my voice at the end of the phone, my physical presence or reply to their email was what they sought.

It was a perfect storm you know; arriving at work early with an idea to revising some workshop materials, having a call 10 minutes after arriving even though that call came 20 minutes before I officially start at 8:00 a.m. Then heading into a workshop 5 minutes before it was due to start after a huddle with two team members about an important topic expected to arise at our meeting later in the day. Then working through the a.m. break because I was needed, prepping for a lunch meeting with someone who also needed me but couldn’t make it. Hurriedly eating a shortened lunch after giving up 45 minutes of it for someone else who needed me. Responding to a couple of consults from co-workers via email seeking my advice on how to proceed with someone’s trauma, wrapping up a shortened workshop and then heading right into a team meeting for the final two hours of the day. It might be exhausting to read this paragraph, but it was ever more so to experience it first-hand.

That might not sound like a lot to many of you. Comparatively speaking, you might have days much more draining that mine. I’ve no wish to contest who’s days are more taxing so I’ll concede that for you the reader, you may have far more energy draining days. The thing about working with people though, for those of us who live it, is that if you really want to be effective, you have to open yourself up and touch emotions to empathetically feel some semblance of what they are experiencing. Then you listen, acknowledge, support and where appropriate and invited, provide hope and encouragement with some advice on finding resolution and forward movement.

To do this and do it well, you listen attentively and respectfully; it’s time consuming and can’t be rushed. So when you think about it, you move quickly doing what you’d expect and in the moments when you should be processing and recovering, you’re unexpectedly in the middle of another story; and there were some major ones shared with me. So it’s move quick, halt; move quick, halt; and it happened all day.

So in my team meeting, with no debriefing, no down time, receiving a full agenda and all of us feeling individually pulled and stretched of late, I shut down to avoid saying and acting in some way I’d later regret. It wasn’t any one thing someone said but rather a few comments which in those circumstances, had me disengage and I told the team I was doing so. My capacity was exceeded, my reserves near exhausted, and we still had 45 minutes to go at that point. I knew I had one last call to make to someone who only seconds before our meeting, also really hoped I call before the days end.

My perfect storm.

I’m glad actually about one thing. After 3 decades in the Social Services field, people’s anguish and life stories still impact me and affect me. That’s important for me at least, to know and have awareness of. To know I am still of help? That to me is it’s own reward.

Today shall be good. I shall be better.

 

Understanding Teamwork


“Must be a team player.”

“Must be able to work independently and in teams.”

Some version of the above appears consistently in job posts these days. So much so in fact, that I’m getting kind of numb to reading over and over again in the resumes I start with a line that reads, “Can work independently or in teams.” I shudder just writing it there myself. Oh my goodness please don’t put this on your own resume and look exactly like 95% of all the other applicants you’re up against. B O R I N G !

Like any job requirement listed by an employer, it is imperative that you understand what the employer is asking for and why the position requires that particular skill set. When you understand the, ‘why’, you’ll find you suddenly have a much better grasp of their need, and so, when you include that skill or ability on your resume, you’ll do a much better job of presenting it, rather than just looking like you used copy and paste to get it on your page. How unimaginative!

I mean just think of the people on the receiving end, going over all those resumes they received. Imagine yourself in their shoes, and objectively ask yourself whether your own resume would stand out when yours, like most of them have the exact same words in that one line; “Work well independently or in teams”.

So what does it MEAN to work a team? Depending on the job, it could mean you listen to others, cooperate, share ideas, show flexibility, cover when co-workers are off, pitch in, collaborate, cooperate, support, encourage, engage, initiate, share resources, accommodate, etc. For a job involving teamwork you have to have excellent communication skills and sound interpersonal skills. Your team might be made up of people at your same level of seniority, but your team could also include interns, junior partners, senior management, front-line workers, administrative support staff. The folks on your team will not necessarily work in the same physical location if you think about it too. Could be they work in another department in the same building, on another floor, or across the city, in another province or state, or even on another continent.

Depending on the above, your teamwork might happen when you work face-to-face, over the phone, teleconferencing, face-timing over the internet, via email or fax, maybe even working collaboratively in a team with people you’ll only ever communicate with using a keyboard. Of course, for many of you reading this, your team will be comprised of your closest co-workers; the ones you physically engage with every day.

So first off, understand what the team looks like in the job you’re applying for. And there’s something not everyone thinks of when they do envision the type of team they’ll work with. Every team has a set of values, and it’s these values that they demonstrate as they go about their work. If you don’t know what the values are a team holds in high regard, it’s going to be hit and miss when you’re in an interview and trying to demonstrate what a great fit you are. If on the other hand you’ve done some advance work finding out what the team you’ll potential join holds dear, you can align yourself with that same set of values and you’ll then talk and act in such a way that it makes it easier for the employer to see you fitting in.

On the team I’m on for example, flexibility, creativity, and collaboration are values we hold. Anyone joining our team might show up at work and suddenly find that due to the absence of a co-worker on the team, their assigned role for the day is changing. That means in turn you’d have to be or learn quickly to be, flexible, adaptable to change. All the workshops we do involve working either alone or with a co-facilitator. Hence, collaboration and accepting the ideas of others is a job requirement. Positive interpersonal skills are essential because you’re not always in agreement with how a day will pan out, and when you’re making adjustments on the fly before an audience, they will be watching to see how you both interact with each other, consult and amend everything from switching the order of your lessons, shortening or lengthening a topic, adjusting break or lunch periods etc. And when the day is done and you’re tidying up, you need to work together to make adjustments, evaluate how things are progressing and turn to preparing for the next day.

Armed with all of that, it feels so inadequate to just say on my own resume, “Work well in teams.” How badly I would be marketing my abilities!

I might however say,

  •  Collaborate and work productively in team environments where flexibility, creativity, leadership and strong interpersonal skills are highly valued

Now I’m packing a lot more into the teamwork angle. I’ve included 4 traits that fit with what I’ve read or learned the employer values. Now imagine my every bullet was enhanced and strengthened in a similar way. Or rather, imagine YOUR resume was strengthened in a similar way.

What’s important to is to prove through your accomplishments which you document on the resume that you’ve actually had these collaborative team experiences. Just making an idle claim that you work well in teams isn’t good enough; it might not be true.

You Only Have So Much To Give


You have to love working for a Manager who demands you give it all you’ve got; then when you empty the tank, they question your commitment and willingness to go above and beyond. Where exactly do they think that extra energy is going to come from when you’ve nothing left to give?

Imagine an hourglass if you will, just turned upside down and the grains of sand rushing out the narrow opening and spilling into the bottom half. When those grains are falling, let’s see your productivity at it’s highest. There’s so much sand in the upper half, pressure and gravity come together to keep the sand moving quickly. However, as time elapses, so too does the quantity of sand remaining. Much of the sand is spent and collected in the bottom half, and there’s less pressure being exerted on the remaining grains. Some might actually adhere to the glass and not fall through without a gentle tap on the sides. Eventually, all the grains drop and there’s no more to be had; your productivity is similarly spent.

Like that hourglass, you’re energy is done, you’ve left it all on the work floor. While it’s easy to reach over and flip that hourglass so the process can be repeated, people don’t work the same way. Oh sure we all have some reserves to tap into, but those reserves are also finite. You just can’t keep expecting an inexhaustible amount of energy to be exerted of anyone. People are not perpetual motion machines.

Here’s where the hourglass analogy fails though. When looking at the hourglass, we can visually see how much sand is in each end. We can then at a glance tell how much is left for the upper half of the hourglass to give. People on the other hand; you and me, not so easy to tell at a glance how much we’re holding back and how much we’ve got left to give – if any.

When you go out to buy an hourglass, you’ll find big ones, small ones, and some timers that look like an hourglass only have enough sand to fall for a minute. Others are 3 minutes, 30 minutes etc. In other words, while we might mistakenly ask for an hourglass, we don’t actually want one where the sand will fall for an hour. We still might call it an hourglass. It’s really a sand timer or sand clock.

In your workplace, you can probably think of people who seem to have an abundance of energy. They are productive when they first arrive to work and they seem to pick up speed as the day goes on and when they leave at the end of the day, they still have a bounce in their step. Just as easily, you know the other types of people where you work who start off productive and in short order they need a break to recharge. They go in spurts, needing breaks or their lunch/dinner time to find the energy needed to complete their work and then they race out the door at the end of the day, entirely spent.  Different people, different sizes of hourglasses if you will.

Poor managers don’t get this though. They see some employees as if they were intentionally holding back, tipping their hourglass at a 45 degree angle so some sand remains lodged in the upper half and not giving it their all. Even when someone looks exhausted, the poor manager has a pep talk or cracks a whip expecting more; expecting the employee to jump up and be fully productive as if they just flipped that hourglass. But each employee is a varying size of sandglass. What some supervisors fail to understand is that by the time someone arrives at work, they’ve already spent some of the energy they had earlier. Not everyone arrives fresh, fully ready to go, and not everyone works at the same pace. Some have to work conservatively if they are to make it through the day. Unfortunately, some in management hold up the one employee as a shining example for the rest and compare each employee to the one with the seemingly endless energy. “I need you to be more like ________.”

Rest, sleep, drink, food and time; these are some of the typical things people need to re-energize. We can only give so much and then if we aren’t provided with ways to build our energy back up – or we fail to take measures ourselves to increase our stores of energy, we’re in trouble. Our bodies will take measures into their own hands and either illness or total exhaustion will shut us down. Our brains might be willing, but our bodies only have so much to give.

So we have to look out for ourselves and for each other. When you work for a good manager or supervisor, they get this too. Sure there are times when the old, “we all have to give more” speech rally’s us for a short-time. But when that short period evolves into our everyday work environment, don’t be surprised when staff start failing; calling in ill, taking time off more often, perhaps leaving for other jobs, or taking mental health leaves. The accumulative impact of this is the same workload spread even more upon those remaining. You can’t get more out of those already giving it their all.

Thoughts?

 

Teamwork As A Valued Trait


Looking at job postings these days, teamwork is one qualification that shows up fairly consistently; the ability to work cooperatively and productively with others. It’s a highly valued commodity; an essential quality that employer’s want more and more in the people they bring in from the outside to join their existing workforces.

It’s more though than simply getting along with others. When you work as a member of a team, you’ve got to understand and act differently than you would if you were working independently. A member of a team comes to rely on others and at the same time be relied upon by them to complete assigned work. Good teams trust each person to show up when scheduled, pull their own weight and go about their work in such a way that fits the other employees. When you’re the new hire, you’re being assessed by the employer and your new co-workers to see how you’ll fit in with the existing workforce; everyone is hoping you’ll contribute in such a way that doesn’t disrupt the way things are. This is true unless of course you’re part of an overhaul of how things have been done and the company wants to shift the culture from the way things have been to something different.

Long ago, many job applicants had similar skills and backgrounds. When an employer advertised an opening, they found that the people applying shared common work histories; people didn’t tend to move around much, and people were interchangeable without much need for teams to adapt to new people. These days, things have changed. Because it’s easier to move around the globe, often employees are showing up not just from different parts of the community, they’re coming from different countries altogether; sometimes from different continents, speaking different languages and having different ways of doing similar work. People aren’t as interchangeable as they once were, and now need much more orientation to local methods, specific procedures and company practices.

You find too that friction is inevitable for some when bringing in new people. Whereas in the past the new hire had to assimilate themselves into the culture of the teams they joined, now you find that many existing workers have to gain an awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the person hired as well. This is a good thing, but it requires effort on the part of the existing team in a way that long ago wasn’t such a priority. Employers too have learned to be culturally sensitive to the needs of their individual workforce members. They go out of their way now to train people on how to work better together – and by better, they ultimately mean be more productive.

Many workers are now cross-trained; they learn not just how to do the job they were initially hired for, but they also learn how to do the job of others. When a person is cross-trained, they become more adaptable, can work in two or three different roles if need be, they become more valuable to the employer. For the person, they are increasing their own skills and doing everything they can to stay hired.

Communication skills are essential when working together. It’s more than just being able to talk and write clearly though. It’s all the non-verbal interaction that’s going on too. Even when working side-by-side with someone, it’s anticipating what they’ll do next, knowing when they’ll need to interact with you and knowing when you’ll be interacting with the next person on your team. Doing your work and being counted on by your teammates to be reliable and dependable goes a long way to fitting in.

The thing about a team environment is that each member should understand and buy in to the same end goals. These can be quotas and targets to hit on a daily basis for example, or they can be how a product is delivered to the customers or end-users. Many teams take a lot of pride in what they do, and if someone – a new hire in this case, threatens that mood or feeling, it will need to be addressed.

Sometimes an organization will actually hire more employees than they plan on keeping. What they are doing in fact is having an internal competition to see who among the new employees will fit with the existing chemistry the best. Or said another way, they are determining who is the most disruptive, performing more independently than gelling with others, and who then to let go.

In a job interview, it’s not enough to say you’re a team player. Too many other people are making the same claims. What is absolutely critical is to give clear examples from your past or current work experiences where you’ve thrived working cooperatively with others and been highly productive. When you show or prove you’ve worked effectively as a valued team member, you make it easier for the interviewers to envision you performing similarly for them. This is where many applicants fail miserably; they make statements with nothing to back up their claims.

Teamwork is about recognizing the strengths of each person and putting everyone in a position to contribute towards the common end goal. If you don’t know what your teams purpose is, this is something you should immediately ask. And while you don’t need to be best friends with your team, show some interest in them.

Want To Get Past Probation At Work?


Hooray! You’ve landed yourself a new job! If you were unemployed, all that stress of looking for work is behind you now. If you left one job for this one, you’ve got a lot to look forward to, presumably this opportunity has more for you than where you worked last. Congratulations either way!

Your goal has actually shifted in any event, from finding a job to maintaining this job. So how long is your probationary period? 3 months is a good guess, but it might be longer. Oh, and if it’s a contract job, you’ll be hoping perhaps to perform so well they’ll keep you on. The same is true for many of you out there who land yourself a seasonal job for the holiday season approaching. Unless of course you’re the new Mall Santa; your job has a definite end date just before Christmas day!

Here then are some things to do to maintain that new job. Again, congratulations!

  1. Show up when you’re scheduled. It sounds completely obvious I know, but I’m continually surprised by the number of people who upon taking a job, think it is well within their rights to show up late or not at all. When your name is on the schedule, you’re being counted on to be at work. You might have good reasons to be absent or running late, but just the same, your new employer has a business to run and needs employees there to do the work.
  2. Get your childcare in place now. This isn’t exclusive to single parents. Get childcare arranged now – before you start a job – and work on getting a back up on call if your primary source of childcare isn’t available. In other words, a private sitter won’t watch your child if they are ill, or on vacation, have an accident; maybe even if they have medical appointments of their own one day – and they will. Don’t plan on figuring this out after you accept a job; you’ll be too busy.
  3. Dress the part. You want to last don’t you? Okay then, fit in. Now I know that individualism counts, that it’s your right to express yourself as you see fit, and yes, if people don’t accept you for who you are then that’s their problem. Sure, this all sounds noble and under many circumstances I’d agree entirely. It’s also just a tad self-serving too. If the job calls for safety equipment to be worn, wear it as it’s designed, not how you think looks most fashionable. If you interact with the public, keep in mind it’s not just your right to express yourself that’s on display, so is the reputation of the employer who hired you. Keeping up that desired image is expected of you.
  4. Be positive. Be friendly and accentuate the positive. People generally like being around people who are optimistic, personable and yes the odd smile goes a long way. Try a little experiment today – smile and see how many people smile automatically back at you. It’s a reflex motion!
  5. Stay until your shift is over. Cutting out early gets noticed. If you expect to get paid right up until your shift ends, you are expected to work until your shift ends. When you’re off at 5 p.m., that doesn’t mean you start putting on your coat and heading out the door 10 minutes early so you get to your car at 5 p.m.
  6. Pitch In. When appropriate, lend a hand to others. By appropriate, I mean make sure your own job gets completed and helping others doesn’t distract you from doing what’s expected of you. Where possible, a simple, “Hey can I help?” might win you some goodwill, get you noticed and signal to others that you’re a team player.
  7. Be careful who you listen to. At the start of your job, you haven’t any idea who the gossips are, the idle workers, the ones Management has targeted as in line to be let go. Be wary of comments, advice or conversations that just feel wrong, paint the employer in a bad light, or taint anyone badly.
  8. Focus on the work. Make sure the job you were hired to do is actually your focus. While you want to get along, you’re under the microscope more than the other long-standing employees. You’re being evaluated and if you can’t hit targets, seem to be standing around more than working etc., they’ll cut you loose and hire someone else.
  9. Ask for feedback. If you’ve got a 3 month probation period, ask how you’re doing long before you get surprised with being released. It’s too late to say, “What? Why?” You should have been told any concerns so you could improve in any areas they identified as needing attention, but it’s still your responsibility to find out how you’re performing. Ask your Supervisor this one, not a co-worker.
  10. Show some enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is my mantra; it’s the number one quality employer’s want in their employees. It’s no longer enough just to, ‘do the job for a pay cheque’. Employers look for workers with some passion, some investment in what they are doing; people who understand WHY they do what they do and HOW what they do contributes to the overall success of the organization.

I’m happy for you! Yeah! Follow the above and I you’ll hopefully keep your job long past your probationary period. Getting hired and staying employed are two different skills; don’t start coasting now.

The Hand-Written Thank You Note


How many of you have recently wrote a hand-written thank you note? Hands up out there. Hmm… not many; no not many indeed.

Okay, another question if I may. The last time you received a note of thanks from someone expressing their gratitude, how did it make you feel?

Interesting isn’t it? You enjoy receiving but aren’t doing the giving. Now of course many of you out there might just be the kind of people who are very thankful and gracious with your words of thanks, it’s just that your saying them face-to-face or in an email. After all email is so convenient, accessible and immediate. You can dash off an email expresses thanks in the same time it would take to put on your coat and find your car keys. That trip to the stationery store to buy a card just seems so unnecessary.

I admit the card of thanks takes more effort. Yes, you have to go to the store, pick out a card or a set of cards that expresses thanks but doesn’t communicate the wrong message with some flowery verse on the inside. Then there’s paying for the cards, (because email is free), and if you misspell a word as you write in pen, there’s no delete button to quickly erase your error. Then there’s the exorbitant cost of a postage stamp, addressing the envelope, the trip to a mailbox. Just too much effort!

Or is it?

Think for a moment what someone has done for you in the first place for which you might be contemplating issuing words of thanks. I suspect what they’ve done, or what they continue to do is worth a bit more than the total cost of an envelope, card, postage stamp and your time. In fact, I’d wager your effort and words of thanks pale mightily in comparison. Too much effort on your part? How unfortunate if you feel this way.

The thank you card could be composed and presented to any number of people and for many reasons. Here’s a few to inspire some action on your part:

  • An interviewer after a job interview
  • A co-worker who has your back when work piles up
  • Your Administrative Clerk; the one who ‘does everything’ for you
  • Your job search references; those who back your credentials
  • The Barista who makes your every morning must-have
  • The Teacher who instructs your child
  • The Child Care Provider who nurtures your child
  • Your neighbour who looks out for you in your absence
  • The Receptionist who greeted you on interview day

That’s a lot of people you COULD be thanking. Better get a stack of cards when you’re out and save yourself a lot of return trips. If you look over that list by the way, you’ll note I hope that not a single note of thanks requires postage at all. Nope, each one can be hand-delivered.

The thing about a note of thanks is that it is short and yet powerful; so powerful in fact that many people will hang on to notes of thanks long after they’ve been received. An email of thanks by comparison may be read and deleted in the same day, or immediately after the person replies with a ‘Thanks’.  Then they switch gears and get on with their day.

I give my job seekers with 5 cards of thanks – blank on the inside – and 5 envelopes. I recommend they make use of them and there’s more available if they need them. Sadly, many don’t even issue one. Those that do however, find them surprisingly effective. Oddly enough, they feel better too when the person expresses thanks and a little shock at having received one.

Take your references as an example of people to thank. These are the people you provide to a potential employer as those who will attest to your work ethic, accomplishments, personality, teamwork, etc. After you’ve done your best to wow an employer, they are the ones who will either close the deal or raise some doubt on your application. Suddenly I think your protest that a card of thanks being too much work is failing miserably.

“Just  a few words of appreciation for standing with me as a valued reference. As I transition to a new place, I’m grateful to have your support.”

Now honestly, how long do you think that would take for you to write? Time surely then, can’t be your argument for not writing one, and we’ve already talked about the cost.

So if time and money aren’t the real reasons, we’re left with you don’t know what to say – see example above – or you just can’t be bothered – which means you truly aren’t that grateful. You could have literacy issues I suppose, which I grant.

Need another example? Okay…

Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon. I found our interview informative and enlightening. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work together and look forward to this with enthusiasm. I am excited about the next step in the hiring process.

Short and to the point. Come on people, you can do this. You’re looking for an edge over your competition aren’t you? Don’t be the candidate who just goes home and waits for the phone to ring. You can pen this one sitting in reception and hand it in right after the interview to the Receptionist.

Or not.