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Foster a Culture of Gratitude

| October 1, 2013

by Jim Bruce

“I don’t care if you like each other right now, but you will respect each other, ” said Coach Herman Boone to his high school football team in the movie Remember the Titans.  In todays Tuesday Reading, Christine Riordan, Provost and professor of management at the University of Kentucky, says it similarly in her essay Foster a Culture of Gratitude:  “In every workplace and on every team, all people have the innate desire to feel appreciated and valued by others.”  And, according to Katzenbach and Smith in their book Wisdom of Teams, high performing teams are defined in part by the strong personal commitment of each member to the growth and success of each team member and of the team as a whole.

All of this speaks to a culture where team members are valued and appreciated.  A culture of gratitude.  The importance of gratitude is clear from an American Psychological Society (APA) research study conducted in 2012 – more than half of all employees in that study intended to search for new jobs because they felt under appreciated and undervalued.

Research from a number of studies point to four things a leader can do to develop a culture of gratitude:

  1. Say thank you!  This is positive feedback, something that we’ve previously said is absolutely necessary.  So be specific about the contribution and the significance of your team members individually and the team as a whole.  Target at least once a week.
  2. Be intentional in helping others to develop.  According to the APA study mentioned earlier, 70% of employees feel valued at work when they have opportunities for growth and development.
  3. Involve employees.  Give them an opportunity to take part in the decision-making, problem-solving, and to use their skills to benefit the team.
  4. Support collegiality.  Work to eliminate caustic, sarcastic, dysfunctional team behaviors and create opportunities for team members to interact with each other beyond their specific work.

Creating a culture of gratitude reaps rewards in terms of performance and satisfaction for the entire team and a sense of being valued and appreciated for each individual.

So, say a meaningful thank you to someone today.  .  .  .    jim