The art of saying ‘Thank you’

- Practices & Exercises

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by Vasco Duarte

Inspired by reading The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, Gary Shepherd wanted to give people the opportunity to ‘flag up colleagues they think deserve a bit of extra recognition’. But he told me he had to tread carefully, since the Brightside Group plc – the company he works at – is based in Bristol. And although probably as fond of compliments as the rest of humanity, the Brits aren’t too keen on attracting attention. Even if well deserved.

The Shout Out Shoebox


Gary and the team decided to use the Kudo Box principle. A simple idea: you place a box somewhere and people can put in a card, complimenting someone with something he or she did. It’s a public thing, everyone can see who complimented who and why. Gary and his team called their box the Shout Out Shoebox.

Major challenges

The first challenge was where to put the box. For it to work, recognition should be publicly visible, but because they are Brits: not too visible. The water cooler provided the solution. Somewhere in a corner, but frequently visited. First challenged completed.

The second challenge was how to pass on the cards. If you are British, you can’t just walk to someone to hail him or her. That, of course, would embarrass both parties. The solution: the line manager would pass on the cards to the intended receiver. Gary and his team hoped people would at least display the cards on their desks, so others could see what was going on. So, he decided to print a set of Kudo Cards, adding some instructions and handed out the cards. They where ready to go.

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Hit the ground sprinting

At the end of the first week they had 2 cards, one of which was anonymous, Gary told me. He also said a rather skeptical manager of another department took delight in shaking the empty shoebox. The second week, however, saw some more cards. One for a new employee who was complimented for her ability to ‘hit the ground sprinting’. She and the others that got a card where touched by the gesture and displayed them on their desks and walls in plain sight.

Taking things a step further

After just a couple of weeks things were now going smoothly. More and more compliments were handed out, even to teams that initially did not participate. The best thing? The skeptical box-shaking manager was surprised by the positive reactions and he asked if he could roll out the scheme to his own department. Gary and his people now plan to take things even further by not only using the Kudos cards but also other means of appreciation. Things like an extra hour lunch break, just to say ‘thank you for what you did’.

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