My hope is that you and your family are safe, well, and flourishing as the holidays approach.  I find that during the holiday season key themes emerge about our role in the organization and how organizational cultures continue to change and thrive.  

We wanted to use this month’s newsletter to highlight the importance of gratitude and expressing thanks in the workplace.  The definition of gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for, and to return kindness.”  Gratitude may not be a word often used in the workplace, but in a recent book, Leading with Gratitude, the authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton share various principles and make the business case for showing gratitude to employees as the “easiest, fastest, and most inexpensive way to boost performance.”  

For our loyal readers, we often reinforce the importance of applying leadership principles at the organizational, team, and individual levels. In that tradition, we want to share some thoughts and encourage you to apply gratitude in your professional and personal lives, while reflecting on a very challenging past twenty months and planning for the year ahead.

Organizational Level

At the organizational level, think culture!  How does your organization create a culture of gratitude and appreciation?  Do your employees believe they are recognized and appreciated?  Often, employee engagement scores offer some indication of how employees feel about recognition.  Even when there are specific programs in place, many times employees feel “spot awards” are used inconsistently or are not genuine expressions of appreciation.  

To reimagine a culture of gratitude, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Reinforce your organizational values to ensure that the foundational principles of gratitude and appreciation are explicitly and implicitly included
  • Revisit employee recognition and reward programs for fair application and determine if employees truly value them
  • Include principles and practices of gratitude in leadership development efforts to shore up individual leaders’ ability to effectively communicate appreciation to their teams and direct reports 

Team Level

A common thread in high-performing, high-morale teams is the belief that their collective and individual efforts are appreciated and valued. If you lead a team, take stock of how often and how genuinely you acknowledge others’ work and their individual contributions to team results. 

Some practical practices to put in place:

  • Seek to understand how each of your direct reports wants to be thanked 
  • Dedicate time in staff meetings to thank each other 
  • Encourage peer-to-peer gratitude
  • Always ask, who else needs to be thanked? Remember, there may be under-appreciated or unacknowledged roles in support functions that contribute “thankless work” that goes unnoticed and is critical to results

Individual Level

People want more than a paycheck in a job.  Most people want to believe they are valued and contributing to something bigger.  A lack of intentional gratitude or appreciation can cause people to feel undervalued.   The tips below are not new, yet they can serve as reminders for leaders to appreciate others: 

  • Assume benign intent – see people as trying to do well
  • Recognize exceptional efforts, even when things go wrong
  • Seek to understand others’ challenges and the steps they took to overcome them
  • Remember basic civilities, such as greeting people in the morning and thanking them for their time and effort
  • Look for the small wins

Gratitude is a powerful concept, and when demonstrated at the organizational, team, and individual levels, fosters an environment where people feel valued, appreciated, and engaged. 

Please share any additional ideas or practices you use at your workplace.

As we approach the holidays, WLH would first like to thank our clients and followers for your business and insights.   During these difficult times we have seen our clients demonstrate agility, creativity, and gratitude.  You remain an inspiration to our team, and it is through our engagements where we have the opportunity to experience partnership, share our expertise, and most importantly — help create organizations where individuals Change and Thrive! 

As you wind down and prepare for a well-deserved holiday season, please know that we appreciate you and look forward to continuing our relationship. We are in this together and are here for you as thought partners and trusted colleagues. 

Happy Thanksgiving, 

Dr. Wendy Heckelman and the WLH Consulting Team


WLH Learning Solutions, Inc.
Author:
WLH Learning Solutions, Inc.

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