Writing Thank You Notes Does Pay Off

With Jet Blue (the employer of the now-famous Steven Slater) at the low end of the scale, and Campbell Soup’s CEO at the other, Kevin Kruse showed why it makes good business to help employees grow in the jobs, recognize them for what they do well, and create an atmosphere of trust.


This morning Kruse (third from right in this photo, also including, far left, Princeton Regional Chamber CEO Peter Crowley, Nell Haughton, and Tom Neilssen) spoke at the Nassau Club to a capacity audience of the Princeton Regional Chamber.  Neilssen, who is CEO of the Research Park-based Bright Sight Group, represents Kruse for his speaking dates. Those who attended went home with a free, signed copy of the book Kruse co-authored, “We: How to Increase Performance and Profits through Full Engagement.”


Slater is (was) the Jet Blue airline attendant who famously get fed up with his job and exited the aircraft on a slide. Doug Conant was the CEO who rescued the fortunes of the 150-year-old Camden-based soup company with a “soft approach,” paying attention to the hopes and dreams of the workers. (Conant had his own book published last year, Touch Points.)


Speaking without notes, with the humor and ease of the professional keynoter,  Kruse gave example after example of how G (grow) plus R (recognize) plus T (trust) equals business success. At one of his previous firms, Kenexa, he made it a point to have regular career chats (G for growth) with each employee about where they wanted to be in the next three years, and these contributed to his earning Best Workplace Awards. Beleaguered by Campbell Soup’s initial financial problems, Conant somehow found time to write 10 to 20 thank you notes every day, accomplishing the R for Recognize. Any company, whether in the black or in the red, should summarize its strategic plan as something memorable (Starwood’s mantra, for instance, is 1,500 hotels for 2014. That’s T for Trust). 


When he recently addressed a prestigious military audience, Kruse picked up another piece of advice, this one from a respected colonel: “Everyone is not a leader! First you must learn to follow.” But, says Kruse, even though you are not the acknowledged leader, not the CEO nor the manager — you can use the G-R-T principles. says Kruse: We can all lead from where we are.” 


Guess I’d better get back to my long list of unwritten thank you notes

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4 thoughts on “Writing Thank You Notes Does Pay Off

  1. If Kevin Kruse's equation for employee engagement,(Growth + Recognition) x Trust is both simple and profound. I believe that if his principles were broadly applied, our nation and economy would experience a renewed and sustainable vitatlity. Tom Sullivan, Princeton Partners

  2. Anne, you are right. The speaker did indeed acknowlege the controversy about whether Slater was a renegade employee or whether Jet Blue (low on employee engagement) was to blame. I have changed the opening sentence. It originally read "With Jet Blue's Steven Slater at the low end of the scale…" and now it reads "With Jet Blue (employer of the now-famous Steven Slater) at the low end of the scale…." Thank you for noticing this — and thank you for reading Princeton Comment.

  3. I don't know if it was Mr. Kruse who made this analogy or Barbara Fox, but as a friend of Steven Slater and a former flight attendant, I think this characterization is unfair. Mr. Slater was working, like all US FAs, under very stressful circumstances that he did not create. As Dr. Helen Davey, a psychotherapist, who writes for the Huffington Post(and is also a friend and former Pan Am flight attendant) notes, he was traumatized by this encounter with an abusive passenger, grabbed a couple of beers, engaged the slide and the rest is legend. Instead of trying to help a clearly troubled employee, Jet Blue fired him immediately, offered no assistance when he was arrested and charged and from what little information is known re the offending passenger, neither the airline nor the FAA were very interested in investigating what her role was. . Dr Davey wrote this:When the JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater took his now-famous slide down the emergency chute, beer in hand, after publicly telling off a nightmare passenger, many people around the world cheered. The incident hit a nerve among many employees in service jobs who are expected to perform the "emotional labor" that Dr. Hochschild describes. The dehumanization of human beings when they are regarded as resources to be used and commercialized strikes a universal chord, and as Dr. Hochschild pointed out nearly 30 years ago, we are all partly flight attendants.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-davey/positive-emotions-commoditization_b_773103.htmlSteven Slater is not at the low end of the spectrum – Jet Blue is.Anne Sweeney

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