In today’s technology obsessed world, the simple handwritten note is more powerful than ever.
A couple of years ago, I was standing in the back of a breakout session at a major corporate convention. There were about 300 people in the room from dozens of different companies and all age groups. During a rather boring talk on becoming an inspiring leader, the presenter did this:
- Asked anyone who had ever received a handwritten note from their boss acknowledging their performance to stand up. Almost everyone in the room stood.
- Asked the participants to remain standing if they held on to the note for any period of time (did not immediately dispose of it). Only 2 or 3 people sat down.
- Proceeded through a timeline and eventually asked the attendees to stay standing if they held on to the note for three or more years. Half the room was still standing!
The visual of the people in that room really stuck with me. Over the next few weeks, I started to see these notes everywhere - pinned up in cubicles, stuck to computer monitors and framed and hanging on office walls. I shared the story with a well-known CEO I was advising and he laughed and pulled out a ratty, one-inch file from his credenza. He had saved everyone one of the notes he had ever received. He called it his “ego file”. When the pressure was really getting to him and he faced a tough, lonely decision, he would take the file out and read some of the notes. It helped to revitalize him.
A simple handwritten note is one of the most powerful tools available to any leader. It will do more to improve employee morale and engagement than any fancy multi-part program. Positive vibes will spread as the organization realizes that you are aware of, and care about, the “real” work being done in the organization. It will also have a subtle yet profound impact on your own outlook. Because you will be on the hunt for the good things people are doing, you will naturally become more optimistic and positive.
It’s pretty powerful medicine. Why not get started today?