The Development Source

We Don’t Acknowledge People and Say “Thank You” Enough!

I have been honored to have been president of two nonprofit organizations – a synagogue and a music society.  I learned many things as presidents of these organizations, but perhaps the most important lesson was to acknowledge people and convey my personal appreciation to them.

Unfortunately, today we all are drowning in clichés and platitudes, many of them patently insincere.  How many letters do you get a week from your bank or investment companies that tell you how much you are valued as a customer, and how many of these same banks and investment companies helped topple the economy in 2008 through their greed and criminal behavior?  Truly we are living in the age of insincerity.

As proposal managers, we are always under a great deal of pressure to adhere to schedules and milestones and produce outstanding proposals.  In the midst of our hectic work schedules, we often forget that our most valuable asset is our proposal team. 

We cannot treat each other as tools or cogs in a gigantic proposal wheel.  Instead, we must acknowledge what every study has demonstrated – that we all need thanks to feel appreciated and valued. 

We also know that when we acknowledge and thank a colleague, we feel better too.  Appreciation is a very pro-social kind of behavior. 

Saying thank you increases the likelihood that your colleagues will not only help you but help other people too.  Saying thank you is a form of social capital.  It helps build trust and cooperation.

Mark Goulson in a recent blog in the Harvard Business Review has provided us with a good roadmap for providing a meaningful thank you.  I will modify his suggestions and apply them to proposal development.

I encourage proposal managers and everyone on proposal teams to take these four steps to say thank you:

  • The first and most important step is to be grateful for the work your colleagues are doing.  You cannot give a sincere appreciation and thank you unless it is real.  They will immediately see through any acknowledgement that is not genuine.
  • Thank them for something very specific.  For example, you could say “Mary, I really appreciate that you stayed late today and helped us finish our gold team review.”
  • Acknowledge the sacrifices that people are making.  “I know that you could be spending today with your kids at the playground.  I really appreciate you working this Saturday afternoon to finish our proposal.”
  • Tell people what their work personally means to you.  “Mark, I couldn’t have managed this proposal without your great work as a Volume Lead.  You made this a very persuasive proposal.”

Follow this simple rule:  you cannot sincerely say thank you enough to your proposal team.  As Queequeg the Fiji harpooner says in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, “It’s a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians.”

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