How Gratitude Impacts Organizations

There is no more impactful way to help someone grow their confidence than by a leader telling a colleague or a direct report how grateful they are for their valuable contributions to the team. Seems simple enough and yet many leaders sometimes forget that important part of leadership. This past week I spoke with a young leader who shared his vision with me for his organization. What struck me was that he included in his mission the desire to create a strategy to show how to be more thankful. Was I really hearing this correctly? He felt that the organization didn’t do a great job in expressing gratitude and appreciation to the individuals who worked hard. The inability to establish routines and rituals of saying “thank you” was pulling the institution down. There have been numerous studies on gratitude and how it has impacted organizations and teams. In a Harvard Medical school article a research study on gratitude was conducted: “Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.” Does your team or organization do a good job in displaying appreciation? Would the people you work with give the company high marks for being grateful? With Thanksgiving arriving this week in the U.S. it is an ideal time to think about ways of bringing appreciation and gratitude to our work worlds. Showing appreciation to our team members builds a kinder and more connected workplace.

5 Strategies To Help Leaders Express Appreciation and Gratitude:

1. Weekly Thank You Emails

A wonderful leadership ritual to establish is recognizing the valuable contributions of our team members in an end of the week email. Send the entire team or organization if it is small an email sharing the accomplishments of team members. Include all types of achievements. Even think about mentioning birthdays or special events in a team member’s life. Weekly thank you emails to a team helps build a culture of gratitude.

2. Host An Appreciation Lunch

You can never go wrong with food. Breaking bread with our team members helps leader build a deeper human connection with them. A lunch is a great opportunity to:
  • Find out about a team member’s interests.
  • Express publicly a leader’s gratitude for someone’s helpful contribution.
  • Create team bonds and spirit.
  • Show a leader’s personal side through sharing their interests and background.

3. Give Time Off

Flexibility is the name of the game for most of us and what a terrific way to reward someone for their perseverance than by offering them a paid day off. This particular way to recognize a team member will not only create good will but also provide rejuvenation away from the workplace for the person we are thankful for.

4. Hand Out Free Stuff

This is a ritual not to be missed! Giving out free items is so doable as well as a great way to recognize a job well done by a team. A leader can really get creative with giving free items:
  • Starbucks or Dunkins cards.
  • Books on leadership that a leader has on their bookshelf.
  • Mugs or glasses.
  • Bagels, cookies, candy.

5. Promote Or Give A Bonus

A team member who is deserving of a promotion or bonus will feel gratitude if their boss or colleagues fight for them. When we know that our boss believes in our abilities and wants the organization to show appreciation by promoting them we are leading by advocating. How do you express gratitude or appreciation to the people you work with each day? Related: Six Leadership Decision-Making Dilemmas