It’s More Than Money

Who needs to learn to say “thank you” and praise the work of associates? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article the partners of the prestigious law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. (To read responses to the article go to the WSJ Law Blog.) The situation was so troublesome partners were educated with a slide presentation about the topic. Are they the only? Is this problem industry specific? Absolutely not. In my view the lack of recognition of people, with positive words and actions, other than money, is epidemic. It is a major contributor to the lack of loyalty and staying power in many organizations.

Why would highly educated, successful individuals need to learn such basic manners and Management 101 techniques? They were never taught as children? possibly. Kind of a lame excuse since they were probably never taught to drink fine wine as children either and have managed to figure that out. Manners and motivation were not discussed in law school? Definitely. No one thanked them when they were at the bottom so it is part of the culture? More likely. Arrogance? for sure. Too busy, sounds good but hard to justify. Most likely the answer lies in a combination and a few more individual factors.

Why change? In this firm’s case the motivation was clear. The problem was costly and now was becoming embarrassing. S&C was losing a third of their associates a year, a rate 50% higher than their competitors. They were ranked very poorly as a good place to work by associates in the field. The firm was losing quality people and not attracting their replacements.

For those of you who are responsible for staff you know the financial and emotional costs of losing employees and the importance of retention. If you have ever worked in a place where people kept coming and going and at some level everyone thought they might be the next one out, you know how disruptive it can be. New hires take months to get up to speed. At ninety days they may not be right and the process starts all over again.

The WSJ article also mentioned Goldman Sachs. They are a client of Sullivan & Cromwell and known for their strong culture and high attraction and retention. One of the ways Goldman takes their pulse is with the use of a 360 instrument. For those of you unfamiliar with the 360 it is a questionnaire of sorts. It asks supervisors, co-workers and staff to rate other employees on everything from communication to trustworthiness and responsiveness as well as many other factors. There are questions and narrative responses. Employees also rate themselves. The data is analyzed, results compiled and compared (often to others at a similar level or to the company as a whole) and then shared with the employees. As a coach and executive I have administered, delivered the results of and created the action plans for many a 360. Done well it can reinforce positive behaviors and attitudes (“I am respected”) as well as highlight problems (“never says ‘thank you’ and takes all of the credit”) and acts as an objective means to implementing necessary change. My sense is many firms do not use the tool because they fear the message.

Your challenge for the week

  1. This week let’s monitor our expressions of gratitude. How often are we giving and how often are we getting words or actions that say “thank you”?
  2. What could you do to make your workplace positive and a place where everyone wants to work? If you are a solopreneur you should also ask yourself these questions because you are both your employer and employee.
  3. Consider taking a 360. They can be administered easily and for very little money. I have administered them in large organizations, small businesses, as well as with the board of professional organizations and not-for-profits. They are valuable at all levels.

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

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Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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