“No Thank You Please” — And The Importance of Directives

Just after the start of the new year, I came across this story in my Facebook timeline about a school in North Carolina where teachers were discouraged from using “please” and “thank you” in communication with students.

Coined as No-NonSense Nurturing, the idea behind the initiative is the teachers shouldn’t say “Please” or “Thank you” for students doing things where participation isn’t truly optional.

Manners is something to be taught at home, not school. Manners are a sign of respect, deference and sincerity. Asking a child to “please sit down” or saying “thank you for not calling out during class” is a misuse of manners. It leads to children not understanding authority and structure.

I was fascinated by the premise and agreed with sentiment … I immediately wondered how and if this could work at work.

  • How often do we say “please” when the other party really has no other option but to comply?
  • How often do we say “thank you” to someone for doing something that is routine or required?

This isn’t real or good manners.

It is passive-aggressive. It is inauthentic — and people see right through it! It creates resentment and division more than it fosters collaboration and teamwork.

More than any other time in our history, we are seeking authentic and honest connection at work.

How can we get there if our communication is laced with insincerity, noncooperation and manipulation???  Because that’s what these unnecessary “pleases” and “thank yous” are … Manners wrapped in rudeness.

After mulling around these thoughts, I started a little experiment … I stopped saying “please” or “thank you” when compliance isn’t optional or when I’m not sincerely grateful.

A little over a month into the experiment, I am really enjoying it!

With every clear, succinct directive, I feel better and better because I know my communications are more clear and candid without the fluff. It’s great!

On the recipient’s end, it has been pretty uneventful. No one has declared me as rude or bossy or lacking manners. No one has pushed back, either … It seems hardly anyone has noticed.

Which now has me wondering … Do manners even matter at work?

Tell me what you think. Please. And thank you.

Is It Time To Re-Write That Job Posting?

If your HR Department is like mine, you’re juggling everything from applicant sourcing to COBRA administration and all points in between.

So when you write a job posting that effectively describes the role and responsibilities, you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot and found the Holy Grail! And you use that same post and verbiage over and over … and over and over … and over and over.

And once more again for good measure.

Over time, however, even the best of job postings get stale. And if you keep doing the old copy/paste of the same verbiage over and over, you’re eventually going to see a dip in both the quality and quantity of applicants for your positions. Why?

  • Applicants don’t read. We’ve heard over and over that recruiters and hiring managers only spend 5 – 10 seconds looking at applications. Well, applicants aren’t spending much more time looking at the jobs they’re applying to, either. They spend about 15 – 20 seconds reading job postings. So if you’re not updating your postings, you’ll end up with lots of duplicate applicants who either won’t remember applying before or will apply again because they don’t think you saw them the first time.


  • Applicants know you’re not serious. Whether it is your career site or a job board, the serious seeker sees when you’re using the same posting again and again without changing anything. When applicants see that you’re not serious enough about your postings to make routine adjustments, they think you’re not serious about your job requirements. So if you’re not updating your postings, you’ll end up with under-qualified and/or long-shot applicants who think their annoyance persistence might just pay off.


  • Applicants are perceptive. Remember, while you’re screening someone for that opening in your company, that someone is also screening you. When applicants see that you’re postings are routinely recycled, they wonder what kind of organization they’d be working for. How can you legitimately claim to be forward-thinking, innovative and cutting-edge if you haven’t updated your job post wording in over a year or more? If you want to attract top talent but you’re not updating your postings, you’ll end up running off those high performing applicants who think you won’t be able to further develop their talents.

Don’t cause open jobs to linger longer and hurt your talent pool by using stale job postings. If you’re not yielding the applicants that you want and need, it’s probably time to update that old faithful job posting with some fresh new wording.




Living the Fast Food Worker Protests

Five years ago, I separated from my husband and the father of my children after years in a tumultuous relationship. I accepted a promotion which required me to relocate to NC shortly after we split. Although the job paid a good salary, it was difficult for me to make ends meet as a single mom with 2 children under 5 years old. Our split was contentious and it would take months for child support arrangements to be put in place — and even longer for me to receive payments. I made too much money for assistance of any kind. I relied on friends and family to help me. Some, I was able to pay back; others, I never did and I thank God that they still love me anyway. I struggled for over a year, while working to finish my Master’s degree … and for some time after that, “tight” wasn’t a strong enough word to describe my budget.

I never once blamed my employer or demanded a raise. When review time came, I pushed hard for the maximum increase and I had all the documentation to back it up. But I didn’t expect anything from them. And I wasn’t mad at my owners for making a profit while I experienced personal struggle.

So as media coverage and protest participation surrounding the Fast Food Workers gained momentum this summer, I felt … some kind of way about it.

On the one hand, I felt I could relate to their struggle after my own experiences. I couldn’t imagine having to support my family on minimum wage for an extended period. I couldn’t imagine working someplace who never awarded pay increases.

On the other hand, demanding a pay increase just based on personal need isn’t acceptable to me, either personally or professionally. My bills are not my company’s business or concern. If the demands of my life require me to earn more, it is my responsibility to figure out how to make that happen. It will not be easy or fun. I felt all kinds of guilt, embarrassment, shame and depression during my struggle. But I decided I wouldn’t let myself stay in that place and I did what I had to do to make it through and make it better. I believe the same power lies in each of us — especially when we align ourselves with uplifting things and people.

If I had a 3rd hand, I would use it to challenge the assumption that these fast food restaurants are swimming in money. It’s not true. Most of these restaurants are independently owned franchises and they are NOT making record profits, yo! And I know because I’ve spent almost 9 years working for retail franchisees. The money for these franchisees to pay $15/hour as minimum wage just isn’t there — unless we all want to pay $20+ for our “value meals.”

Yet I’m not OK with leaving people to struggle. The disparity of wealth in America and all the problems resulting from it are real. Especially for women and people of color. People I know. People I love. People who look like me.

I’m proud that, while my organization saw a few protests and protestors, none of our employees walked out, called out or joined the fray. I think it speaks to our commitment to providing fair wages, good benefits and a path for promotion to our long-term employees. I think it speaks to good HR philosophy, strategy and execution.

That makes the struggle worth it … even though it’s probably not over. For the workers, the owners, the industry or for me.

Who’s Guiding Your Sleigh?

Once upon a time in Christmastown, there were two misfit employees who were encouraged to stifle their true talents in order to conform with company norms. Rudolph, with his nose so bright, was not always Santa’s favorite. While Rudolph’s flying abilities were far superior to those of his peers, he endured ruthless workplace harassment for being different, for having a skill – a glowing nose – that others did not have. To add to the shame, Santa and Rudolph’s parents did not see beyond the glow of his nose to understand how valuable this trait would one day be. Rudolph’s glowing nose blinded everyone to the fact that it could be used to the organization’s advantage. With all the ridicule, poor Rudolph did not see his worth and decided to leave Christmastown. As he ventured out on his own, he happened upon another Christmastown outcast, Hermey the elf.
Hermey too was an underappreciated former Christmastown employee. As an elf in Christmastown, one is destined to punch the time clock and work in the toy factory. Like every elf, Hermey had his assigned station on the assembly line, but unlike the other elves, Hermey had dreams – dreams of being a dentist! Hermey’s daydreaming and practicing his dentistry skills on toys often held up the production line and got him into great trouble with the head elf. Like Rudolph, Hermey realized he did not fit in with his co-workers and the company’s rigid operating standards and left Christmastown to pursue his dream.
With these two workers walking off the job, turnover in Christmastown increased significantly and unemployment was at a all time high! All this because someone in the workplace was busy trying to force them to behave and work the way everyone before them has.
While Hermey and Rudolph explored their options, they came across some interesting characters, Yukon Cornelius, an Abominable Snow Monster, and an entire island of misfit toys. During their exploration, they also acquired some additional experience, they learned to prospect for silver and gold, how sail across an ocean on an iceberg and Hermey even got to practice his dentistry skills on the Abominable Snow Monster, which saved Rudolph and his family!
Having gained confidence and skills, Hermey and Rudolph returned to Christmastown. Shortly after their return a snow storm hit. The storm was so bad Santa had gathered all the employees to announce plans to cancel the annual toy delivery. As Santa was making his announcement, Rudolph’s nose glowed so bright that it lit up the whole factory. At that moment, Santa realized the value of Rudolph’s gift. This light would be a beacon he needed to see through the snow storm. The delivery would go on as scheduled! Because of Rudolph’s ability to shine so bright, he would guide Santa’s sleigh that night. And from that night on, Rudolph has been Santa’s lead reindeer.
Look around your office of misfit teams. There are likely employees holding up production because they’re daydreaming about a better way to process data, market your product, build a better widget, or guide your team through a storm.
This holiday season, reward your employees with something they want and deserve, meaningful work that allows them to use their unique talents!
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!
Today’s post was written by Tiffany Kuehl. Tiffany is an HR professional with over 16 years experience and has worked in hospitality, non-profit, financial services and manufacturing industries in roles focused on talent acquisition, talent management and employee development. In addition to her role as a staffing leader at a Fortune 100 manufacturing company, Tiffany currently serves as the President of the Twin Cities Human Resource Association (TCHRA), an affiliate chapter of SHRM.

She is also a contributor at Performance I Create, an HR site aimed at tackling management issues from an HR practitioner perspective. You can follow her on Twitter at @TiffanyKuehl. 

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