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Yesterday I graduated from my MBA program after four years of night school.  I want to give an appropriate "than you" to my bosses because they paid for the entire thing from their budget.  I have worked in the same group for over 10 years, and I know my direct boss and our group director very well and consider them friends.  I also know our VP and have worked under her for several years, although I don't know her as well as my more immediate supervisors.

So, as a mid-level engineering manager in a Fortune 500 tech company, I would like to know an appropriate way to say thanks.  The handwritten note springs to mind after seeing many threads and hearing one podcast on it (so far).  What about offering to take them to lunch?  The higher-up the chain I extend the invitation, the less available those people are (and the more awkward a lunch invitation seems since the most senior person always pays for business meals at my company). 

Thanks in advance,

--Scott

P.S. -- I'm brand new here on the MT forums.  I did a word search on "Thank You" and read the resulting threads to avoid submitting a repeat question, but I may not have caught everything.  My apologies if this is a repeat.

mkirk's picture
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Scott,

I understand the issue with who pays, and also how high up the chain to thank. It sure isn't an easy one and has to come down to your judgement in the end. But in my experience, nothing beats genuine sincerity - not a hand written note, not a meal, not a night out - nothing.

I once had a direct ask me for a 15 minute meeting as he had something personal to talk about and, when it happened, he sat me down in private and said he wanted to thank me for something I'd done for him. He had worked out a little speech, he'd thought about how the decision had impacted on me and he had thought about the benefits he'd gained. He told me how he felt and his obvious emotion, plus the effort he'd put into preparing for our 15 minutes meant a hell of a lot more to me than any of the 'thank you' meals or 'well done' nights out I've been involved with over the years.

I don't know if that would work for you, but it was very powerful being on the receiving end (it was over ten years ago). Just do what you think is right (even if it's hard) and be yourself.

Best Regards

Matt

ashdenver's picture

I would get each person along the chain something - a token - maybe a small box of chocolates or fancy mixed nuts or a gift basket geared toward a hobby of theirs or a cookie basket or an edible arrangement or similar and include a handwritten thank you note for the investment in your education as well as the support along the way.  Maybe the VP gets the more generic gift and note where your direct boss and director get more personalized gifts with notes.  I would skip the lunch thing entirely but that's just me.

The only caveat I would have is to tone it down considerably and limit the gifts/notes to only the two you consider "friends" if the tuition payments are part of the standard company benefits.  If there's a corporate policy (which I suspect there is given that you said it's a Fortune 500 company) then there's generally relatively little these folks actually did in terms of support for your MBA.  In that case, I would focus only on the emotional support, encouragement and their flexibility in working with you to pursue this advanced degree. 

jhack's picture

Nothing can beat a heartfelt personal thank you note.  

They can buy their own chocolate.  They can't buy sincerity.   

John Hack

smgraham2's picture

 You have received some conflicting advice here, so I just wanted to re-emphasize, the what (Thanking them) is more important than the how.     

 

Now for my take - Meal followed with a thank you note.    Set the date, if some people can't make it, thats OK and follow up with a note to all who you invited whether or not they attended.

thaGUma's picture

My twopenceworth .... sit in their office and say "i really want to say thanks, without your help I wouldn't be where I am today. I will remember this any will drop everything to help you when you need it - just ask.". Say it in front of the team and you have done all you need. The meal , the token, is just a distraction. As John said - be sincere.

Chris