Thank you goes a long way

When Jess received a brief note of gratitude from a colleague, she decided to pay it forward, and the ripples began to spread. Taking three minutes to recognise someone's effort can make them feel valued - and feel seen.
icon: two hands shaped around a symbolic heart that has a medical cross in the middle of it

I was at my daughter’s primary school assembly recently. One by one, children stood up and showcased their work. Proud and joyous smiles filled their faces as they read out examples of their writing, held up beautiful artwork and showed off their well perfected recorder rendition of London’s Burning. It got me thinking about how we praise, celebrate and learn from each other at work.

It had been a long day: relentless phone calls, back-to-back admissions with little space to pause, a teaching session that felt rushed because there weren’t enough doctors... I left feeling exhausted and somewhat helpless in the knowledge that it was likely to be the same thing again tomorrow.

That evening, I received an email from one of the consultants. It was brief but it conveyed gratitude for my input that day. Words that recognised how hard it had been. Words that made me feel seen.

The following morning, I walked into work with a newfound bounce in my step, and that afternoon, I passed on the gratitude. I emailed one of the junior trainees and copied in their supervisor, highlighting something that they had done that was great and had made a really difference to the patient but also to me. 

“Thanks for your email Jess,” they said, the following day. “It meant a lot.”

Seeing the positive impact of taking three minutes to recognise someone’s effort, I started making a thing of thanking people at the end of a shift, of pointing out their effort and successes. This wasn’t about formal feedback, just a simple acknowledgement of the value they’d brought to the team that day.

There were smiles and laughs, learning opportunities and behaviours to celebrate… but most of all, there was belonging

The ripples began to spread. We started a ward Wow box - nothing more than a shoe box that I’d painted with my kids, in which the team posted comments scribbled on a post-it note. We highlighted great practice and thanked colleagues for specific actions or behaviours that had helped us. Each week, we read them out at our weekly departmental teaching session. There were smiles and laughs, learning opportunities and behaviours to celebrate… but most of all, there was belonging. 

There are lots of great platforms for celebrating each other, be it PAFTAs, Greatix, Trust awards… But sometimes you may not have time to sit down and fill in a form, or the behaviour you’ve observed may not seem ‘enough’ for a Greatix. So instead, just tell them, ping them an email, scribble it on a piece of paper. Make sure they know that you’ve noticed. 

Thrive Paediatrics is about this. It’s about creating a ripple effect where one small positive action leads to another and another, and together, we begin to improve our working lives. As part of the project, we are collecting stories, your stories. Things that are going on in your departments that are beneficial to your working lives. Big or small. Corridor conversations or organisational initiatives, please get in touch. Let’s use our Thrive community to celebrate each other, to learn and work together to improve our working lives. Email us on thrive@rcpch.ac.uk.