Thank you notes: required or optional?

Update 4-25-12:

Elsewhere on this blog, Aneil writes today about why people should thank total strangers when they receive unsolicited help, especially when they make use of help!

Update 2-29-11 (Leap Day!):

We believe that showing gratitude is so important that we devoted an entire chapter, entitled “Think Thank-You” in our first book, Trust is Everything.

Here’s the chapter, Think Thank-You.

Here’s why not sending a thank-you email message after an interview will kill your chances of being considered further.

Update: 1-31-12

Shortly after I wrote about this about thank-you notes, Dick Gordon of The Story (from our local NPR station, WUNC), interviewed a man who is on a quest to make e-mail thank-you’s more acceptable.  I heard this interview one night on my way back from teaching my evening MBA class and realized that this was actually a topic that many had opinions on.  I am anxious to hear what you think.

I agree that there are times when you don’t have time to write a formal thank-you and an email will convey your message quickly and effectively.  For instance, an email is helpful when you have interviewed for a job and they are selecting a candidate the next day and you want to make sure your interviewer knows you are grateful for their time and are the best candidate for the job!  But, there are other times that a hand-written gesture is most appreciated, as evidenced by the stack in my late grandmother’s bedroom.

Original Post on 1-7-12

A USA Today snapshot reveals that I am one of only 31% of mothers who always require my children to send a thank-you note.  An almost equal amount NEVER ask their children to write thank-you notes.  What is this world coming to?!

My teenagers have been writing thank-you notes since they were born.  Yes, I signed the cards for them then.  Then, as they could draw, they would scribble something, then add their name, then a word, then a sentence, then write the whole card.  It was a gradual evolution, but I have always wanted them to understand gratitude.  If we don’t say thank-you, how can we express our gratitude and have a grateful heart?

Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I know that when I wrote thank-you notes to my co-workers when I was in sales and marketing, for a small act of kindness they did for our customers, Coke and Pepsi, they were so grateful that someone noticed their work.  I know how much my parents love getting notes from my teenagers, even the short ones they write now.  My grandmother loved my notes (thank you and otherwise) so much that my parents found a pile of them in her room after she died.

In our first book, we wrote a chapter called, “Think Thank-you”.  Being grateful also comes from a place of compassion, where you appreciate what you have and what others do for you.  One of my favorite thank-you notes I ever received was from the late Wake Forest basketball coach, Skip Prosser.  One of my students was on the basketball team and invited me to be a “guest coach” for one of the games.  It was a thrill to watch him play from the floor, sitting right behind the team.  I sent Skip a thank-you note, telling him how much it meant to include me and my family in something like that.  Skip Prosser actually sent me a thank-you note for my thank you note (!), thanking me for my teaching and service to Wake Forest University.  He was the only one to ever thank me for doing my job.

You never know how much those words will mean to someone.


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Downsizing’s Steady Drumbeat

We’ve been conducting research on organizational downsizing for more than two decades, but even so, it is next to impossible to keep up to date on downsizing activity in the U.S. and around the globe.  Nonetheless, we’ll post here some of the downsizing efforts taking place that we don’t comment on elsewhere in our blog.  Here are some of them:


General Mills Unveils Restructuring, Job Cuts


Capital One to lay off 850 employees in Salinas


Bank Of America Plans To Lay Off 2000 Senior Bankers: Report

Frontier Airlines files formal layoff notice for 129 Milwaukee job cuts


American Airlines announces 1200 layoffs of nonunion workersPrimeFlight To Lay Off More Than 300 At Texas AirportsHawker Beechcraft warns employees of 350 layoffs


First Solar plans to lay off 2000 workers, California-ordered cuts will shutter 56 courtrooms, lay off 350


Sony confirms 10000 layoffs as part of ‘One Sony’ initiativeHawker Beechcraft warns employees of 350 layoffs


Sony to cut an estimated 10,000 jobs.


PPG to cut 2,000 jobs, J.C .Penney to lay off 14% of its headquarters staff.


Dow Chemical plans to lay off 900Yahoo Layoffs To Start This Week,


T-Mobile to lay off 1900 employees,


Jackson Memorial to layoff over 1000 workersUnion reports layoffs at IBM.


Nokia to layoff 4000: Europe’s pain is Asia’s gain

2-9-12:  Pepsi to cut workforce by 3% or 8700 employees in 30 different countries.


Supervalu to Layoff 800, 200 in Minnesota


Verizon to lay off 336 employees in New JerseyBose laying off 200


American Airlines to lay off at least 13,000UMass Memorial to lay off at least 700 (report)San Diego Unified Prepares to Lay Off 1100+ Employees


Sub-Zero Releases Layoff Information involving 100 employeesP&G marketing layoffs new sign of the times, expert says,


P&G To Lay Off 1600 After Discovering It’s Free To Advertise On FacebookUBS reportedly to lay off 10% of staff in Germany

1-25-12:  UPS plans 400 layoffs at northern Ky. facility

1-24-12:   Texas Instruments to close 2 plants in cost-cutting move that will lay off about 1000 employees.

1-18-12:  Kraft to lay off 1600 in 2012Oakland gives layoff notices to 2500 city workersBMO Harris Bank to lay off 350.

1-12-12:  MetLife to lay off more than 800 in Irving, TXArcher Daniels To Lay Off 1000 Jobs Sanofi Canada to lay off 100 employeesCSC to lay off 114 local employees

1-5-11:  Health Plus in Virginia to lay off almost 900 employeesUMMC to lay off 115 workers, leave unfilled positions vacant.

1-4-12:  Northrop Grumman layoffs planned for Fort HoodPhilly schools send layoff notices to 1400The potential hidden costs behind temporary layoffs (Canada),

12-29-11  102 Holiday Inn hotel workers in Charlotte, NC get layoff notices.  No, make that Hawaii Medical Center layoffs number 500.

12-23-11:  Hawaii Medical Center to lay off employees on Christmas Eve

12-22-11:  Vulcan to layoff 200, consolidate regionsHarley asks for layoff volunteersAttleboro metals company announces layoffs

12-20-11:  Harley-Davidson offers voluntary layoffs in Wisconsin

Harley-Davidson Inc. is offering voluntary layoffs to hourly workers at three plants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area to reduce staff by about 26 percent, giving itself flexibility to hire seasonal workers.

Nassau OKs over 300 layoffs
The Nassau County Legislature voted along party lines Monday to approve the layoff of more than 300 municipal employees by year’s end.

Jefferson County, Alabama eliminating hundreds of jobs

12-16-11:  Morgan Stanley to Cut 1600 JobsAT&T passes out 100 layoff notices

12-13-11:  Tampa Tribune begins layoff of 165, NPR Reports two Make It Through Five Layoffs In Five YearsPostal Service downsizing will be messy,

12-11-11:  Mosinee Factory Closure.

12-8-11:  AstraZeneca to lay off another 1,250 employees in the U.S..

12-7-11:  Citigroup To Layoff 4500 Employees, To Take $400 Mln ChargeBristol Compressors Announces Major Layoff.

12-2-11:  Ingalls Shipyard to lay off 500 non-union employees, Wisconsin Public Service to lay off 74 union employees.

11-30-11:  In Germany, Eon to eliminate 11,000 jobs and Manroland to file for bankruptcy.

11-23-11:  U.S. Navy to lay off 3,000 mid-career sailors, Ovonic Energy Products,  Motiva to lay off 500, Nokia to downsize its global workforce by 17,000 or 23%.

11-22-11:  Sikorsky to cut workforce another 3%, Booth Newspapers and to cut workforce in half, The Wilderness Society to cut staff by 17%.

11-20-11:  City of Detroit to lay off 1,000, reduce workforce by 9%, Citizens Financial Group.

11-18-11:  UBS to downsize investment banking unit by 11 percent by 2016.

11-17-11:  Citigroup to lay off more than 3000, Pella Corp., ITT Exelis,

11-16-11:  Stryker Corp. to lay off 5% of its workforce worldwide, Capella University to lay off 4%, Nassau University Medical Center.

11-13-11:  Women’s clothier Christopher & Banks to close 100 stores and lay off 7% of its HQ staff.

11-12-11:  Dozens of layoffs at CNN, 300 laid off at Hawker Beechcraft.

11-11-11:  Simplot to lay off at least 800.

11-10-11:  Andesen Corp. to lay off 250,


Adobe lays off 750, Excite Technologies in Tennessee.

11-8-11:  Lansing, Michigan police slower to respond, make fewer arrests after layoffs.

11-3-11:  Element K, AMD to cut 10% or 1,400 jobs, Gameforge, and 3500 layoffs avoided in New York as a result of a new deal with the Public Employees Federation union.

11-1-11:  Kudelski Group to lay off nine percent (9%) of its workforce, Illinois’s Cook County, software developer Silicon Knights.

10-29-11:  Whirlpool to downsize in Europe and North America by 10% or more than 5,000 jobs, Motorola, BuyWithMe, Clearwater Paper in IdahoHewlett-Packard may kill off WebOS and lay off 500 .

10-26-11:  Mass layoffs in September affected 153,000 workers, and Procter and Gamble plans to downsize through early retirements, but not how much or why.

10-20-11:  Amgen to lay off 226.

10-18-11:  Kimberly-Clark, Babcock & Wilcox, Lowes Home Improvement to close 20 stores and lay off 2,000 employees, mass layoffs at Goldman Sachs,

10-10-11:  Ararmark lay off 128 at Disney locations.

10-9-11:  AstraZeneca to lay off 400 in Wilmington, DE.

10-8-11:  BBC to downsize by 2,000 jobs over the next five years, Navistar by 130 jobs by year’s end, and NV Energy 100 jobs by spring of 2012.

10-7-11:  Compensation Insurance Fund to lay off 30%, or 1,800.

10-5-11:  Illinois companies to lay off 650 workers, and Friendly’s Ice Cream restaurants files for bankruptcy and will lay off 1,200 employees.

10-4-11:  Hanford Nuclear Reservation to cut 1,000 jobs.

9-30-11:  Nokia to cut 3,500 jobs.

9-29-11:  Governor Andrew Cuomo sends layoff notices to first of almost 3,500 New York State employees to be laid off, and the union develops a proposal to try to avoid the layoffs.

9-28-11:  MetroHealth Systems in Cleveland, OH to eliminate 450 jobs, cut $30 million in expenses over next two months; more than 500 Lockheed will lose their jobs as a result of previously announced downsizing of 1,500.

9-27-11:  Novartis announces new, unspecified layoffs in addition to 2,500 already downsized in the past year, and Georgia Health Sciences University to lay off 150.

9-24-11:  Red Bull Nascar Racing Team,

9-23-11:  Viacom.

9-22-11:  You’ve got to be kidding me:  Hallmark Produces Layoff Greeting Cards.

Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger will lead to 2,000 jobs lost.

WIPP announces layoffs to start in October.

H-P Starts Layoffs in WebOS Unit, and has eliminated or will eliminate more than 34,000 jobs since 2005.  Is it any wonder that H-P is considering getting rid of its CEO after he’s been on the job for only a few months, as reported in today’s WSJ??

United States Postal Service (USPS) would like to eliminate 120,000 employees.

American Greetings and Papyrus merge..sort of

American Greetings sold its retail operations to the parent company of Papyrus (a high end card company) and Papyrus sold its wholesale operation to American Greetings.  I was asked to comment yesterday by the Cleveland Plain dealer about this sort-of merger and here’s what I said:

Karen Mishra, assistant professor of marketing and advertising at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., is shocked that Papyrus and American Greetings would become partners because “their products are at opposite ends of the market, appealing to entirely different audiences.”

But the deal makes sense for both, because it gives Papyrus a broader foothold in the consumer card market and it lets American Greetings get out of the day-to-day retail business, she said.

Consumers are unlikely to notice a difference unless Papyrus changes the stores or the products, but she suspects that any changes would be improvements, “since Papyrus produces higher-end products.”

This will actually help them compete with Hallmark who is still the leading card company, so from that perspective it is an interesting and probably good deal for both.

I’m still a huge Hallmark fan, however–I just got my Hallmark gold crown rewards–an $8.00 coupon this time–for being such a loyal customer.  It will be fun to watch to see if American Greetings and Papyrus can beat that.