It’s Sad But True: Don’t Expect to Get a Thank You in HR

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Oct 16, 2014

I am coaching a young HR leader who reports to a founder/CEO.

She doesn’t have a mentor or a direct supervisor. She is leading an unusually big project for a woman her age. I have been hired to help guide her through the next few months. It is a neat assignment.

This woman is tough and focused. She is working with men who are nice enough to hire a coach on her behalf but not always nice enough to say please and thank you.

For some reason, this matters to my client.

Don’t wait around to say thank you

So, I gave her this big lecture about how most people are never properly thanked for their hard work.

How do you thank the guy down at the filtration plant who fishes out tampons from the water intake? How do you thank the crew that picks up roadkill from the side of the highway? How do you thank the young woman who picked your blueberries or the young kid in Bangladesh who sewed your clothes?

The way you thank people is by doing good work yourself and not looking for a thank you.

When you get a chance to pay it forward and say thank you, do it — but don’t wait around for a letter of thanks to come your way.

So I lectured this young woman — while sounding like an old person — and caught myself in a weird moment of self-awareness. I wasn’t giving her a pep talk. I was giving myself a pep talk.

The world is full of lazy and ungrateful chumps, men and women who constantly take and never offer anything in return. There are people who would ask me for $5 out of my purse before crossing the street and picking up a $50 bill on their own.

For most, it’s not about praise but a paycheck

But you know what? Sometimes I’m one of those chumps.

I miss opportunities to say thank you. I take when I should be giving. And to repent for my sins, I’m burdened with working harder than necessary (at times) and enduring the presence of other lazy morons.

That’s life.

We don’t work hard and make good choices for thank you letters and praise. We work hard and make good choices for a paycheck.

The sooner you embrace this concept in life, the easier adulthood becomes.

I told this young woman to get off the phone with me and go thank her CEO for being a nice guy. She is lucky to have someone who cares enough about her career to invest time and money in a coach.

And if anyone wants to send me a thank you letter for no damn reason whatsoever, do it. It’s long overdue! My email address is

This was originally published on the Laurie Ruettimann blog.

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