Google “gratitude in business” and you’ll wind up with thousands of results. And not just because it’s November – a month in which the topic is top of mind for Americans preparing to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s because, as it turns out, gratitude is good for business. And that is because, as neuroscientists have discovered, gratitude actually changes our brains.
According to a Huffington Post round-up on gratitude and the brain, here are three of 10 ways gratitude affects our performance at work:
Gratitude improves social behaviors which makes it easier to network. Studies show that those who are 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital.
Gratitude stimulates goal achievement. In one study, participants instructed to keep a gratitude journal for two months reported more progress toward their goals.
Gratitude enhances decision making.
Expressing gratitude in the workplace helps leaders create connections (between actions and outcomes, effort and performance) and build relationships (among team members and with others more far-flung in the organization).
Like working any muscle, with repeated practice, the behavior becomes more natural. Here are three ways to make the most out of the gratitude you offer every day – in person, by phone or via a hand-written note:
Be specific about what you’re thankful for, e.g. “Thank you for taking the recent uptick in cost of quality so seriously, and for the focused analysis you provided in your process review.”
Explain what you liked or the next steps, e.g. “I learned two things from the perspective you provided and believe we can make significant progress in reducing defects.”
Continue to build the relationship, e.g. “I’ll take this work forward to the Quality Council and let you know what next steps we put in place.”
Research shows that those who practice gratitude every day live longer, sleep better, experience increased productivity and live happier lives.
We could all use more gratitude in our lives, and especially in the workplace. My challenge to you… smile more and thank someone today.
Here’s a look at what some of our team members are thankful for:
People notice visible signs before you “officially” tell them anything. These signs constitute anything out of the ordinary, everyday experience, including:
- Frequent closed-door meetings in an environment where doors are almost always open
- Unannounced visits by executives who spend the day in meetings with onsite leaders
- Unannounced visits by guests who appear to be closely examining people, processes and activities
- Posters or advertisements for anything that hasn’t been announced to the workforce
- Changes to the perks — free breakfast or lunch that’s no longer free, or when the kitchen isn’t stocked for a while
- Questions that go unanswered or projects that are postponed without explanation
As humans, we naturally look for pattern changes. When something changes and we’re not sure why, we make up our own reason. Here’s an actual example:
There was a For Sale sign on a fence facing the highway of near a manufacturing plant.
Employees driving to work passed the sign, then exited the highway, parked their cars and walked into the building entrance.
That’s when they saw the Now Hiring sign.
What do you suppose they were they thinking?
The reality was that the company had some land it wasn’t using adjacent to the manufacturing plant. So it decided to sell the land. At the same time, it happened to be hiring to expand its workforce.
Rather than communicate these two issues to the workforce so they could feel good about what was happening, they put up the signs and didn’t anticipate the resulting confusion.
What visible signs could your team be misinterpreting right now?
This is especially important when your team, function, business unit or organization is going through any kind of change. As you think through your change management plan, think about what visible signs your employees will see throughout the process. Are you timing your communication to align with visible signs? When leaders and managers tell employees what’s happening before they start to see the signs, they build trust, credibility and confidence.
For more information about employee engagement and change programs, or communication training, email me at email@example.com.
Taking on a new executive leadership role can be challenging. Whether you’re new to the organization or the position, it’s important to build trusting relationships from the start. These five keys will help you engage your team and employees, and set the stage for success. For more information about leadership communication, check out my article in AMA Quarterly.
Saying ‘no’ to a colleague, boss or customer can be difficult. It can also build trust and strengthen your business (and personal) relationships. How? What’s more important than the words you use is the intention behind them. Try these problem-solving tips the next time you have to decline a request. For more information on Communicating to Engage, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.