Recently the question was posed in a discussion group I belong to, as to how to develop a culture of gratitude. It made me wonder: Does an attitude of gratitude help the bottom line?
Gratitude and feedback are nearly synonymous. If you receive gratitude from someone, they are providing positive feedback. The lack of a display of gratitude is also feedback. However, lack of gratitude does not necessarily represent “bad” feedback. It can mean ambivalence or or the assumption that you understand gratitude is already present. It can also mean that what you have done is expected. Finally, it could mean that your performance did not meet expectation. There are some simple rules to showing gratitude that will carry you a long way.
Show gratitude frequently. An organization I once worked for had an eCard system you could use to send an internal Thank-you. Some of these you could attach dollars to, but most were just a Thank-you and nothing more. The system kept track of all you send. In one year, I sent over 375 Thank you eCards. Some people think that excessive. I was actually told that I “abuse the system.” However, I rarely had difficulty when I needed to ask someone for help on an urgent matter to take on an extra assignment. Somehow, what I had asked of them became a priority for them – for which I thanked them.
Be specific. You should always specifically state the behavior or task for which you are grateful. The system I used at the time required a maximum of 200 characters. This forced me to be brief and specific, so it was clear as to what I was grateful for. “Thanks for your help,” does not cut it in my book. It is too general. If you state specifically what you are grateful for, you are more likely to have a positive impact. You are also more likely to get the same behavior you originally recognized when you ask for help again from that same individual.
Consistently following the first two rules help when you have to deliver an uncomfortable message. Face it; we live in the real world. From time to time we need to coach others on what could have been done differently. These discussions are much easier to digest by those to whom we deliver the message when you have already established a pattern of gratitude. Explaining to someone how to change a behavior or activity to produce better results is much easier to accept if the bearer of the message is frequent and consistent in delivering messages of gratitude.
Coach, invite and challenge others in your organization to do the same. Life is usually not made of step changes. As a matter of fact, step changes typically represent something bad that has happened in our lives. The positive things we see in our lives come from continual positive incremental change. If you work on developing an attitude and behaviors that reflect gratitude, others will notice. Of those others, some will adopt the same behaviors. Eventually you will have critical mass in your organization and voila! You have cultivated gratitude in the workplace.
A culture of gratitude is one that values the individual and values results. A culture of gratitude is more collaborative and more productive. A culture of gratitude has a higher probability it will resolve conflict and position itself on a more competitive footing. Does an attitude of gratitude help the bottom line?
Please help me understand where the downside is!
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