We have all heard about being grateful, sending thank you notes, and maybe even a personal gratitude journal.
But, what about gratitude at work? How? Why?
Because you can actually transform your workplace with gratitude. It makes just as much sense at work as in your personal pursuit of life. After all, organizations are made up of people.
I know what you’re saying: “It doesn’t feel that way in world where we are asked to do so much more with less than enough people!”
That is the very reason gratitude in the workplace makes more sense now than ever.
Gratitude: The Key to the Kingdom
Gratitude needs to be authentic, or it is not gratitude.
Gratitude is not a metric or a manipulation technique to encourage stronger performance. It’s the key to unlocking all that is powerful and amazing about the people that make up your organization.
“Science shows gratitude unlocks access to empathy and emotional intelligence.”
As an executive coach, I cannot count the amount of times I’ve received a call asking for help with a leader in transition. The ask is always the same: they need help with emotional intelligence, influencing skills, situational awareness, and communication.
I always start with helping a leader develop a gratitude practice by journaling.
When we start with journaling, the behaviors are noticed quickly. In fact, just 15 minutes of journaling a day will boost positive emotions. When a leader in transition or distress can begin to manifest happiness inside themselves, new ways to access their inner strength appear.
I start the process with leaders due to the multiplying impact they have on the teams that report to them. In 2015, Gallup showed us some dismal numbers to pay attention to: only 35% of our managers are engaged in their jobs.
“So, you see, a happy, engaged leader matters in some very measurable and sobering ways.”
Let’s say your unengaged leader manages 12 people and is only 35% engaged. That engagement, or lack thereof, trickles down to those 12 employees. You’ll be lucky if even 4 of them know what they’re supposed to be doing and perform even the bare minimum of their job expectations.
Building gratitude into your culture at the top is a game changer. Remember, it must be authentic, or it is not gratitude. A grateful leader understands that gratitude is unlimited and will raise engagement at all levels. They do not fall into the trap that gratitude is recognition and, therefore, performance-based.
Grateful leaders are able to celebrate small and large contributions to the team through expressing gratitude in a way the elevates the level of play, ownership, and accountability of the collective.
I had the immense pleasure of witnessing a leader grow her gratitude practice over a years’ time to the point a member of her team stood up in from of her peer group and expressed her gratitude for the leader and shared she would follow her anywhere. The room was full of awe, appreciation, and love to be a part of that team and to witness that level of authenticity after a rough year together.
I am blessed enough to witness this similar event over and over when working with a leader that experiences the growth their gratitude practice offers them.
4 Tips to Transform your Workplace with Gratitude
1. Start at the Top
We all know the “walk your talk” concept, and your organization will be watching their leaders to see how serious you are about infusing gratitude into the workplace. Two of the most effective ways I have helped leaders adopt an “attitude of gratitude” are on leadership retreats and in leadership coaching engagements.
Gratitude is a practice that takes time and literal “practice.” As a result, it will need to be supported over a period of months—I have found six months is a great timeframe for the practice to stick and stay in place long after this time frame.
2. Customize Gratitude
We all want and need to practice in different ways. A great tool to understand how people may want to experience and express gratitude is through Chapman’s 5 Love Languages.
But, Alexsys…love languages? At work?
Yes, love at work. It is at the root of who we are as whole people. A love for one’s work is, point blank, profitable.
3. Express Gratitude ALL over
Gratitude is a currency that is infinite. The more you give of it, the more you get! The lost art of a “Thank You” letter comes to mind here.
Forgot how to write cursive? No problem! Here is a link to some pretty Gratitude Coupons to insert into your email “thanks you” notes.
4. Gratitude in the Rear-View Mirror
Slow down to speed up. Take time for lessons-learned around all change management initiatives. Catalog the wins, and then celebrate them appropriately.
Lean into the failures or misses that were experienced, and capture adjustments needed for moving forward so future change initiatives will not suffer the same learning curve.
Taking the lessons forward to help teams navigate the landscape with more success next time around is a celebration in gratitude all by itself.
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The benefits of gratitude in the workplace are just beginning to be researched. Intuitively, we all know the feeling of being in a grateful environment with grateful leadership.
Gallup has shown us over and over that people stay or leave an organization due in large part to the person they report to. This is the reason that the first fundamental building block of building a culture of gratitude starts at the top.
I often facilitate workshops and speak at workplace events on how to transform your workplace with gratitude. If you’re interested in creating better leaders and producing better results, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be my honor to bring gratitude to your place of work.