This time last year, we were gathering to share wins, celebrate each other, and express gratitude for everyone’s hard work. The warm and fuzzy feelings created when reflecting on a job well done highlight the positive outcomes from the year. It reinforces our loyalty to our company and lets us create new memories with the people we work with.
This year is a little different though.
We look through the lens (Zoom lens) of a year held mainly in isolation with few moments to look back on together. We found ways to connect and grow as a team virtually. However, there is the question of whether the same nostalgic in-person moments are as effective at keeping the team together as they used to be. The tone we set isn’t in the big wins but in the small day to day expressions of gratitude we show for our team members.
Our Gratitude Story
Our anecdote of gratitude starts a few months ago at our Monday morning meetings.
We always try to make our Monday morning meetings energetic, encouraging, and most importantly, brief.
They used to consist of team updates rattled off, updating everyone on our goals for the week. We convinced ourselves of the importance of this process. “If we don’t know what everyone’s working on, how will we make sure everything is getting done?”.
Recently, we took a step in another direction. We re-framed the “list of tasks” to a “list of celebrations”. Instead of going in a circle sharing our to-do lists for the week, we had the team celebrated each other for what they accomplished.
Our Monday morning meetings became about expressing gratitude and celebrating wins – and it’s a game changer!
Why Express Gratitude?
It Makes People Feel Appreciated
This encourages them to be more productive when other motivating factors are no longer at play.
It’s Energizing and Engaging
Meetings are transformed from listing off your daily tasks to a conversation centered around supporting each other. Plus everyone is engaged! Suddenly, the conversation includes everyone rather than focusing on one person at a time.
As soon as you teach your employees how to express gratitude, it becomes part of your culture. The ease of saying thank you is increased and the encouragement continually reinforces itself.
It Improves Productivity
Research shows that expressing gratitude helps improve productivity. According to Stanford Business, “When helpers are thanked for their efforts, they experience stronger feelings of social worth, which inspires them to engage further in helpful acts”.
Your Online Interactions are Short-lived
There aren’t as many touchpoints between your team anymore. After you’ve hung up your call, you aren’t going to run into someone at the coffee nook and say thanks for their help there. It’s important to be intentional.
Tips for Expressing Gratitude
Keep it Simple
Say thank you and express why, but no need to go on and on about every person on your team in-depth. Keeping these interactions light makes it easy for other team members to pay it forward without feeling like they are over-doing it in the flattery department.
Ask Team Members to add their Celebrations to the Morning Meeting Notes
This way everyone can see the notes ensures that they are all contributing, and you can manage the meeting length.
Focus on Gratitude over Tasks
When your team is celebrating each other they generally point out specific projects or tasks. A lot of the time, you end up getting to know the specifics of what’s happening at the company without being given a laundry list. When Laura says thanks to Jim for helping her with that email list issue last week you naturally uncover team roadblocks and learn what your team is spending time on. As well, you can better support your team when communication is open and positive.
Ways of Appreciating
Some team members don’t mind public attention. Others want a . Find out what each of your team members prefers for appreciation and then act accordingly.
Every Team is Different
Every team will respond to new exercises in different ways. Just make sure you are keeping communication open and honest, without focusing on the negatives. Even just thanking your team at morning meetings for their hard work fosters trust and makes people feel good. Plus, it reinforces that they’re doing meaningful work.
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