In honor of this holiday week, I have been thinking about all the things I am grateful for. We get so busy throughout the year, it can be challenging to take the time to reflect on the awesome things going on in your life, and as leaders I have been reflecting on whether I express this gratitude enough with my work colleagues and teams.
Expressing gratitude and appreciation is a huge driver of engagement and team performance. Do we always give it the attention it deserves?
Appreciation for your immediate team: I am extremely fortunate to be on a talent development team with widely disparate talents and strengths, and of course the widely disparate opinions and perspectives that come with that diversity. Like many of you and your teams, we do not always agree, but the synergy of the diversity often brings much better solutions in terms of the deliverables we provide. I am guilty of not always taking the time to express my appreciation for their awesome work and contribution. Like many of you, I want and expect extraordinary. In high performing teams, that becomes the norm. When anything becomes the norm, it can easily be overlooked and our tendency then reverts to addressing issues that aren’t up to expectations. As leaders, we have to celebrate successes in the moment, versus only having conversations when performance is not as expected.
Gratitude and appreciation for colleagues and great friends at work: Recently in a full staff company meeting, we facilitated a session where every person had an envelope with their name on it attached to the wall. The instructions provided to all were to write one thing for each person that showcased why you most enjoyed working with them and it was placed in their envelope over the two day meeting. It could be anonymous or not, but the key was to share at least one talent, skill, or ability that you really admired. While I know some of you are cringing right now because this exercise seems to “soft”, no value added, or “touchy feely”, the strength of positive feedback cannot be underestimated. While some of these departments can sometimes be at odds and have conflicts over budget, resources, agreement on strategy, etc., this exercise had everyone smiling as they were humbled by the positive feedback received. (We did probably help with insisting no profanity be used in the description, but you get the idea.) Everyone wants to do great work, and everyone innately wants to know their contribution is appreciated. Even if you disagree with someone, what is their special gift that you appreciate?
Gratitude for your leadership team: As I have progressed in my career, one area of understanding has helped me most; the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. When you are not the one in the seat making the final call on the big decisions, it is beyond easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, and question key strategy and execution decisions. Your leadership wants you and the company to be successful, and if it is not you, your role is to help them succeed. We can all identify the big nasty problems and detail why something won’t work. It is the special few who break down barriers and make it happen in spite of the obstacles that really make a difference. Be thankful for the people you work with and for. Often the most successful people are the ones who have finally realized if they make enough people around them successful, good things come to them as well.
These were a few areas I know I am grateful in my work life, what about you? What other things are going well for you, and how can we better recognize them moving forward?