In the workplace, thank you notes are most often mentioned in the context of job searches. That is, thank you notes are mostly written by job seekers who are trying to become insiders at a company, and only because it is conventional wisdom that you must do so after an interview.
But thank you notes are likely about to start flying around much more frequently, and not just from polite and dutiful job-seeking hopefuls. That’s because Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has made it publicly known that the personal challenge he has set for himself in 2014 is to write a thank you note each day. In previous years, he has set out to learn Mandarin and eat only meat that he had killed himself. The thank you challenge seems a bit less strenuous, but could have more far-reaching effects, as Zuck wanna-bes follow his lead.
Well-known management expert Tom Peters says in a Washington Post piece that thank yous should be handwritten and that Zuckerberg will stand out from many of his executive-level peers by reaching out to folks at all levels of his company.
Zuckerberg plans to send out some of his thank yous by email, so no handwritten signatures for those.
Presumably, many of the thank yous will go to folks who made an impact on Zuckerberg by successfully carrying out one or more of his favorite workplace actions: participating in productive debate, demonstrating real-world applications for ideas, and learning to get more done in less time.
Maybe Zuckerberg has seen as many of those gratitude memes on Facebook as we have, and they’ve begun to sink in. But annoying as those can be, gratitude and making a personal connection by saying “thank you” are more necessary than ever, and a key leadership skill that is sadly more and more rare.