You’ll Never Get a Thank You

Government agencies rarely get thank-you letters from its citizens. When’s the last time a citizen ever wrote you to say you did a great job? When’s the last time you actually dealt directly with a citizen you are serving?

But that is fine. As a nation, the U.S. is skeptical of government. It’s in our DNA. When the gov’t does something good, like an awesome online DMV platform, we just say that Amazon looks better. When a local agency provides benefits to needy people, it is just expected. A non-profit does it and they win awards.

But I know government agencies are serving every day. And government employees are doing good work. So here’s my thank you to all that serve.

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You know, reading your post made me really wonder. I interact with the public all the time. In fact, I often characterize myself as “the face of the Forest Service.” So, I actually have received thanks from the public. And let me tell you, it feels great. Knowing that the gov’t is nothing but “red tape” to most of the public, I am happy and proud to cut through that tape for people and help them. Of course, my job also means that I get to receive some anger sometimes too, but that’s the territory. More often than not, they leave me happy. It really feels good to help people, and to know that I’m helping take the edge off whatever image of “The Government” that they may have.

Daniel Honker

Thanks Steve! I remember when I was working for a municipal water utility in Texas, and we received an amazing letter from a resident we had helped navigate the billing rebate process. He showered compliments on our staff, equating our service to what he would expect from a private company he was paying lots of money. (We can’t avoid comparisons with the private sector!) It really made my day and gave me some good perspective.

Christopher Parente

Good post Steve. It’s human nature — people are far more likely to complain than praise. If it’s any consolation, it’s the same in the private sector as well. The saying in out office is, clients say thank you when they renew.

Although some DO say it, and it feels very good!

Mark Danielson

A friend asked me why I went to a small, local government on the edge of the planet. He said, you won’t make any money and no one will ever say thank you or give you a bonus for a great job. Your City doesn’t even have a website! You’re like the highway, no one says thanks when they get where their going.

I think that’s exactly it. When I go, I hope they say he was a good dad, and husband, and friend, and I hope they say and he was a good public servant. He always tried to help and make things better. Even if it wasn’t his job.