In a memorial tribute to Mary Tyler Moore this week, Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik recalls an iconic example of a workplace Thank You on her show in the 1970s.
The brief speech Moore gives to her newsroom coworkers during the show finale, in character as the “groundbreaking, professional, working-woman” Mary Richards, still resonates with Zurawik.
After asking her boss if she can say a few words, she tells the assembled employees:
“I get to thinking my job is too important to me. And I tell myself that the people I work with are just the people I work with, and not my family.
“And last night I thought, ‘What is a family anyway?’ They’re just people who make you feel less alone and really loved. And that’s what you’ve done for me. Thank you for being my family.”
A lot has changed in the workplace four decades later. Zurawik writes that he’s become more cynical in many ways — but he’s still softened by the sentiments of Moore’s character, Mary Richards.
“I thank Mary Richards and Mary Tyler Moore for showing me how rewarding the workplace can be when you don’t think of the people you work with only as co-workers and the work you do only as a job,” he writes.
January is National Thank You Month. Where does the workplace Thank You rank? Rock bottom.
A study by the John Templeton Foundation shows that the workplace is one of the last places people regularly thank each other. Study participants reported that they love gratitude — who doesn’t? — but they hold back from expressing it in the workplace.
Let’s change that! This year, make a commitment to the workplace Thank You. Help your team, from the CEO on down to entry-level employees, be inspired to thank each other every day. It’s easier than you think. Read on to learn how to bring gratitude and Thank You back into the workplace.
Workplace Thank You: Shift Your Culture, Make It Easy
If you want gratitude to increase in your workplace, you’ll first need your management team to be on board — without their support, any initiative to build a gratitude culture will fall flat. Secondly, you’ll need to make it easy to share gratitude.
In many ways, gratitude is self-sustaining once a system is in place to support it. We’re inclined to pass gratitude on to others when we feel appreciated ourselves.
Make ‘Time’ for Gratitude
The stressful feeling of having “no time” is one of the biggest blocks to workplace civility, according to Christine Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Her New York Times essay “No Time to Be Nice at Work” lays out an argument for a kinder workplace.
“How we treat one another at work matters. Insensitive interactions have a way of whittling away at people’s health, performance and souls,” Porath writes.
In her surveys of hundreds of people across organizations spanning more than 17 industries, Porath has discovered a common reason for incivility. Many say they’re uncivil at work because they are “overloaded” or “have no time to be nice.”
Ironically, incivility will leave employees feeling more harried and stressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
But it’s the perception of “no time” that matters here, not reality. Thanking someone takes seconds. As Porath puts it, “respect doesn’t necessarily require extra time. It’s about how something is conveyed; tone and nonverbal manner are crucial.”
Your management team sets the tone for communication style, so it’s critical that they learn and practice civil, gratitude-filled communication.
“Leaders can use simple rules to win the hearts and minds of their people — with huge returns,” Porath writes.
“Making small adjustments such as listening, smiling, sharing and thanking others more often can have a huge impact. In one unpublished experiment I conducted, a smile and simple thanks (as compared with not doing this) resulted in people being viewed as 27 percent warmer, 13 percent more competent and 22 percent more civil.”
Make It Easy to Share Workplace Thank You’s
Once management is modeling gratitude, it’s important to make it easy for managers to thank employees and employees to thank each other. Gratitude is like a muscle — the more we flex it, the stronger it becomes.
“The sooner you recognize that compensation goes beyond monetary offerings, the quicker you’ll see that appreciation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Forbes contributor Melissa Thompson writes in a #StartUpLife blog post this week.
Financial compensation remains the leading driver of sales excellence, according to Aberdeen research she cites, but “internal recognition for positive performance is growing as a behavior motivator — especially for Millennials.”
Be practical, Thompson advises. Make it as easy as possible for managers to recognize employees, until it becomes second nature.
One idea for easy recognition is to always have gift cards on hand to share with employees. Thompson got the idea from sales expert Alice Heiman, author of “Inspiring Sales Rep Performance.”
Heiman suggests surveying employees to discover what they like to eat, drink and do in their spare time.
“Then collect gift cards for coffee, meals, movies, golf and other favorite things. These can be under $20 or $500,” according to Heiman.
Empower managers and shift supervisors to recognize excellent employee work with the gift cards.
“Have them ready and then find opportunities to appreciate an action internally … Say Thank You to them and be specific about what you appreciate and then give them the gift cards,” Heiman writes.
Bottom line? “People who feel appreciated perform better.”
Download Your FREE 2017 Employee Recognition Calendar
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
Download the gThankYou 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar for resources and advice to help your organization thrive this year. Our calendar guide gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Download yours today, absolutely free!
Here’s to a happier workplace in 2017!
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