It’s that time of year again, where we stop, pause, and remember all that we have to be grateful for in life. A time when it’s wonderful to slow down and appreciate all of the good things in life. It’s also a great time to stop, reflect, and show gratitude to your employees for their hard work. Have you taken the time to say thank you, recently? Infusing gratitude into your life at work is a powerful motivating force that can transform your team…and you!
Why Be Grateful at Work?
I come from the old school of thought that I get paid to do a job, as do my peers, so why thank people for doing their job? I also know one of my core strengths is being Deliberative – which means I am very careful with my praise and recognition. Offering praise doesn’t come naturally to me. In fact, it’s very difficult for me. As a result, I work hard every day to learn to be grateful and to practice gratitude at work.
Studies have shown that many people find it difficult to express gratitude at work or think it is unnecessary. A John Templeton Foundation survey of 2000 people found that people are less likely to express gratitude at work than any place else. Yet, most people in the survey reported that hearing ‘thank you’ at work motivated them. Isn’t that crazy? Most people want to be thanked for their work and say it motivates them, yet they are also less likely to thank people at work than anywhere else!
Yet, studies also suggest that infusing gratitude into your life at work is a powerful motivating force. Gratitude has the power to transform teams. It creates the kind of work environment where people are motivated to come to work every day. It leads to greater job satisfaction, fewer sick days, and a more positive work environment. Who doesn’t want that?
So, how do you become grateful at work? Here’s some tips I’ve started to put into practice.
Ask for Recognition Preferences
First, find out how people like to be recognized. Have you noticed different people like to be recognized in different ways? Some employees enjoy having the spotlight shown on them during company meetings. Some prefer quiet recognition during a 1:1 meeting. The point is, it’s different for everyone. One of the first questions I ask a new employee is how they like to be recognized. Their answers always guide how I choose to recognize the individual. For example, I’ve had employees who absolutely hate the spotlight. They would be completely embarrassed if I highlighted their work at a company meeting. So, instead, I send them a message on Slack to say thanks for a job well done. In doing so, I honor their preferences for recognition.
Then, get specific. When it comes to expressing gratitude to your employees, the most important thing is to be sincere and specific. Employees will immediately see through any perfunctory attempts at being grateful. To be effective, it must be specific. Give a specific example of something your employee has done recently and thank them for it. For example, when an employee volunteers to take on a difficult task, follow up with an email telling the employee how much you appreciate their willingness to take on new challenges.
Next, keep it timely. One mistake I often think managers make is waiting until a big milestone is hit before acknowledging people’s efforts. In fact, taking the time to celebrate the little wins everyday is something I consider to be a manager essential. Make sure you are showing your appreciation in a timely manner. Waiting until an employee review or when a milestone is achieved to show your appreciation will come across as less sincere and more contrived. Acknowledge and appreciate when an employee has done good work, right when you see it. Don’t wait for the completion of a project – practice being grateful for the little things people do day in and day out to contribute to the bottom line of your company.
Keep it Simple
Finally, keep your gratitude simple. Don’t make a big fuss. Don’t expect a big fuss in return.
Examples to Consider
If you find it hard to infuse gratitude at work, here’s some examples of how you might approach this practice at work:
Katie – I noticed today that you took on a task because you saw John was struggling to complete the work. Then, you offered to show him how you worked through the problem, so he could learn. Thank you for looking out for your teammate. Your thoughtfulness is making a big difference!
John – Thanks for putting in the extra hours this week to get the project done on time. I appreciate the extra effort. Take the afternoon off to enjoy the sunshine! You deserve it!
Joe – I threw something completely new at you this week. I was so impressed with how you picked it up and completely ran with it, making it your own. Thanks for bringing such a great attitude to everything you do!
This week, I challenge you to thank each and every one of your employees for something. Take note of how the feedback is received and how you feel giving it. Make a commitment to add gratefulness to your work life. Then, share your experience below in the comments. Let’s see what infusing gratitude into everyday life at work can do!
Until next time,
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