There is a wealth of information out there, in the form of scientific studies, that emphatically proves that gratitude is good for you. It is good for your health, your relationships and your life expectancy. Most importantly, it has been proven to be a real key to happiness, more so than money, which can only provide a short term feeling of satisfaction. However, is gratitude good for your career? Can it make you a better manager? Let’s drill into to that.
Many organizations are criticized by past employees as having toxic environments of egocentrism and selfishness. In fact, there remains a strong culture of competitiveness between employees garnered by managers to “bring out their best”, ensuring that only the fittest survive. The fittest what though? Does having a workforce of insensitive people that are willing to trample over others to get ahead really benefit the bottom line? In this article by Kira M Newman in UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, it suggests that research actually supports that companies could benefit a lot more by embracing a culture of gratefulness instead.
In a research paper conducted by the Academy of Management in 2016, it was concluded that garnering an atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation, led to a workplace where employees actually looked forward to coming to work and contributing as opposed to them feeling like a cog in a machine. There are many benefits to having a company culture like this, the most important is the minimization of staff turnover and, it is only logical to summarize, that a happier workforce makes for higher and better-quality output. However, although gratitude may seem like a simple enough thing to express, how can managers change the whole culture of their department or company? Here’s some ideas to get you started:
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” —Henri Frederic Amiel
Don’t hold back on giving praise as often as you can: Before you go out there and start praising indiscriminately, there are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure the praise is timely, that is, given while the behaviour is fresh, that it is sincere and given in the right tone (not rushed or delivered in a throwaway fashion), specific to a task or deed, not overdone (don’t get effusive) and don’t combine it with a criticism (don’t say “but” at any stage!).
Create opportunities for gratitude: One thing that research has consistently found is that by keeping a “gratitude journal”, that is, spending 5 to 15 minutes a day writing down the things you are grateful for, has a very positive impact on your health. However, is it possible for an office to keep a journal? Absolutely! The Admin and Finance office of the University of California, Berkeley, created an appreciation platform, or “Kudos” webpage, allowing employees to recognize each other’s contributions. This practice is also known as creating a gratitude wall. It can be done online or on a simple notice board and is highly recommended.
Favour quality of quantity: There is such a thing as gratitude fatigue, so don’t overdo it. Make sure that any praise or gratitude given is warranted, otherwise it will just look insincere.
Write it into your protocols and procedures: If you are hoping to change the culture of your organisation to become more grateful and caring, it is good to revisit your current protocols and procedures. This could include welcoming and goodbye parties for new and leaving staff, and building gratitude into performance reviews.
Training: Often our last point, however there is no better way to start a cultural turnaround then by enlisting experts to conduct staff-wide training. Peers and Players can offer the training and can also include role-play with professional actors, to give real life examples of what gratitude looks like and how it can benefit everyone on every level.
“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” —Charles Schwab