A little appreciation goes a long way

Jul 09 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers], [Et Al]

On any given day, there are dozens of people who's jobs facilitate my own. Many of these people, in accounting, payroll, maintenance, shipping, etc., are people I rarely if ever interact with. Others I engage with more frequently (departmental or college staff) or occasionally but intensely (grants office staff). When I'm pushing against deadlines or have a todo list a mile long, it's easy to forget about the contribution many of these people make.

That's why I try to go out of my way when things slow down to thank the people that have helped me. I've written a little about this previously, but I can't stress how important it is appreciate the efforts of staff members that facilitate what you do. Whether you are a grad student, tech, postdoc, PI, or work somewhere completely different with none of these distinctions, there is a good chance your work is largely dependent on someone else doing a good job at their's.

Both historically and more recently I have been witness to some pretty egregious behavior when it comes to PIs and their treatment of administrative staff who's only offense was to be helpful. That kind of thing not only makes you look like a douchcanoe, but is completely counterproductive for everything you need done by admin staff in the future. You may feel like hot shit because you just brought in a new grant or published a big paper, but I can assure you those moving the paperwork don't care about your h-index*.

I'm often surprised that this even needs to be pointed out, but with ample evidence to the contrary, I'll keep doing so.

*Actually, no one does.

10 responses so far

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    It is very wise to be friends with the 'little people' around you. They can, and will, do a lot more to help or hurt than you might think.

  • studyzone says:

    Couldn't agree more with this post. Recently, I sent a thank-you email to one of the people on our campus who does ordering, because she took care of a somewhat urgent request much more quickly and nicely than I expected. She said it was the first thank-you she could remember getting in a long time. Kind of sad, especially since she generally does bend over backward to help when she can.

  • me says:

    What to do when support staff are being douchecanoes without a reason? And you've tried being polite and courteous, but to no avail....

  • Alyssa says:

    As a staff member at a university, thank you for this! I got far more respect while I was doing my PhD than I do now, even though I love my work infinitely more.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    While I agree with the first two comments, I don't want to give the impression this is a self-serving measure. Yes, you are more like to get things you need if you are in good favor with the staff, but that's not the only reason to do so. People also like to feel like they are appreciated, no matter what the circumstances.

    me, there is that side of the coin too. Find a work around, there is always one if you look hard enough.

    Alyssa, that's a shame, but keep it up and people will hopefully come around.

  • EarlyToBed says:

    simple words: "Thank you" but they really work to make another feel good. Totally worth it.

    More difficult to say, but when wielded correctly can be even more powerful: "I messed that up."

  • Dr 27 says:

    You're welcome. Your local staff scientist and staff in general thank you for it 🙂

  • "little people", eh, Jim? 😉

    Thank you for this. One PI thanking me for my time and/or otherwise making it clear they appreciate the work I'm putting in can make up for weeks worth of being taken for granted while working unpaid overtime on grants (last job, not current job!)

  • proflikesubstance says:

    If I worked with a staff member who I thought did a really good job, I make a habit of sending an email to their boss to that effect. It's all well and good to be thanked (and one should be), but it's also nice to have your effort pointed out to those above you in the line of command.

  • [...] Prof-like Substance for “A little appreciation goes a long way” (every PI – indeed, every boss – should read this post) [...]

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