While in flight to Engage14, I stumbled upon Rodger Dean Duncan’s article entitled “How Campbell’s Soup’s Former CEO Turned the Company Around” on Fast Company. Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, practiced the art of the handwritten note to sincerely extend his gratitude and praise to his employees. Through several kind gestures, he deftly transformed performance gaps into opportunities to connect with his team on an emotional level.
When a leader extends praise and appreciation through a handwritten note, it is a moment to reflect. It’s a humbling experience to put pen to paper simply out of respect for the recipient. The private and intimate nature of a written note is far more compelling and showing of gratitude than a quick and easy email or text message.
An excerpt from “How Campbell’s Soup’s Former CEO Turned the Company Around” by Roger Dean Duncan:
In addition to putting in lots of steps, Conant did something else that’s unusual for a CEO. He hand wrote up to 20 notes a day to employees celebrating their successes and contributions. “I was trained to find the busted number in a spreadsheet and identify things that are going wrong,” he says. “Most cultures don’t do a good job of celebrating contributions. So I developed the practice of writing notes to our employees. Over 10 years, it amounted to more than 30,000 notes, and we had only 20,000 employees. Wherever I’d go in the world, in employee cubicles you’d find my handwritten notes posted on their bulletin boards.”
Conant’s notes were not gratuitous. They celebrated specific contributions. And because the notes were handwritten, they seemed to be treasured more than an email message might be.