If your family is like mine, you probably spend a few moments on Thanksgiving taking turns sharing what you're grateful for and inevitably (hopefully) everyone ends up being thankful for each other. Well, this is a natural time to have a similar conversation with your team at work, and hopefully, they'll express the same sentiment--that they feel fortunate to have one another's guidance and support on a daily basis. I think it's very important for companies to encourage a culture and cycle of gratitude, where people not only feel thankful for each other, but also continuously work to be the kind of productive employees for which others will be grateful.
I know that I'm incredibly thankful for my team. These are the folks who make me look good. They make me look smarter than I am, they're good at things I'm not good at, and they're extremely skilled at their professions, which in turn makes me better at my job. You know you're doing something right as a company when your employees readily have each other's backs. When they volunteer to pick up the slack, complete a project on the weekend, or even take an unplanned trip--all to help out a colleague. This just happened to me, actually. I was scheduled to give a presentation somewhere, but at the last minute my plans shifted. Someone on my team stepped up to the plate, got on a plane, and gave the talk on my behalf. Time and again over the past year, I've had many people give of their time and energy for me and for others in the company, without complaint. The reality is that we all need each other, and I am both grateful and proud to have a team I can count on.
More importantly, however, I want to be sure that they know they can count on me, too. I firmly believe that thankfulness goes hand in hand with mindfulness. That means not only being aware and appreciative of your good fortune, but also purposefully contributing back to that good fortune--putting in what you hope to get out, so to speak. If we keep taking from our relationships with colleagues, but we don't make ourselves available to go the extra mile for them, these relationships that are often crucial to the success of the business aren't going to work. They're like any personal relationships, in that we can't take each other for granted. We can't assume that someone is always going be there to take that extra project or show up to meetings for us or drop what they're doing on a Saturday to work on a deadline project. If we as leaders, employees, and citizens of a corporate culture, don't mindfully invest back in our relationships with the people who support us, we aren't truly thankful. So I hope my team feels that I was there for them, too. It's a priority of mine, and I hope that I live up to their expectations as much as they live up to mine.
On a final note, I'd like to remind all the great managers and executives out there to make a practice of expressing their gratitude to all employees. You may feel thankful--and that's good--but you can't forget to say it to them directly. One small thing I have done every Thanksgiving since first becoming a CEO in 1999 is send a note of thanks to everyone in the company, letting them know that I'm grateful to be working in such an exciting industry with such smart people like themselves, building a company together. I've been told years later by former employees how much they appreciated that annual note. Again, sincere expressions of gratitude do not take too much time and effort, but are essential to organizational health. Today at Jobvite we use a cloud software application to not only attract employee feedback, but to enable and track expressions of gratitude, what we call "Cheers For Peers", whether anonymously or not. Since doing so, I have heard that sharing these in our weekly All Hands meetings have been very uplifting and are a weekly highlight. Find whatever practice works for you--whether it's an email, or a company lunch, or a postcard--and let your team know how much you value their contributions. You'll be building a cycle of gratitude that will not only improve organizational happiness--but as a result--productivity.