Posted on by & filed under career advice, leadership.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope yours was awesome.

As I write this post, it is Thanksgiving evening and I am sitting here barely able to move from all of the stuffing, mac’n cheese, and pie I managed to fit into my tummy.  I love to eat and I love traditions, so Thanksgiving always makes me happy.

Each time this holiday rolls around I like to remind myself how lucky I am – I have an amazing family and group of friends, I live in a country where you can go from growing up on welfare to buying your own home, and I have a fantastic career where I get to work with incredibly talented people.  Amazing, right?

I bet that if you are reading this, you too are thankful for a lot of things in your life.  Well today, I am giving you a bit of a homework assignment: this week make an effort to let the people in your life know why you are thankful for them.

Being Grateful is Good for You!

Every day, we focus on the things we need to get done.  Our ability to execute is part of what makes most of us successful.  And in management many of us find ourselves focused on the problems – fixing bottlenecks, handling complaints, and dealing with our problem children.

And this is all the more reason we need to take a moment, reflect, and focus on the good things.  I very rarely meet a leader that says they give enough praise.  Most of us are much better at giving criticism.  However, being grateful makes everyone happier.  There is a lot of research on this topic, and being grateful does a lot for you; as much as for the person you show gratitude toward.


Grateful people are more likable.

In a study conducted by Dumas, Johnson and Lynch (2002) called Likableness, Familiarity and Frequency of 844 Non-Descriptive Words the word “grateful” was classified among the top 4% of likable traits.  On the contrary, the word “ungrateful” was indicated as one of the least likable and negative traits.


It can make you happier.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a positive psychologist from the University of California, Riverside, successfully demonstrated through scientific research that gratitude can increase the likelihood of a person to become happier.   This is a great little video on the link between happiness and gratitude.


Being grateful can improve your health.

Dr. Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis conducted research that showed that being grateful can have psychological benefits (alertness and wakefulness, higher levels of joy, pleasure, optimism and other positive emotions), physical benefits (improved immune system and blood pressure, decreased occurrences of aches and pains, more inclined to exercise and healthy living, and better sleeping patterns) and social benefits (feeling less lonely and demonstrating better social interactions).


Let’s get grateful!

You are bought in – the data shows being grateful is good.  So let’s talk about some strategies to be grateful and spread a little bit happiness around at work.


Tell your team.

This week take a moment to send each person on your team a little note, letting him or her know something that they have done well.  Your note doesn’t need to be long but it should be:

  • Personal.  This is from you, not the company.  Make it about your gratitude and your personal thoughts.
  • Specific. The more specific the better.  Giving details helps the person understand what it was they did well.  Instead of “you did a great job handling that problem”, tell them why they did a great job; was it their reliability and being there when you needed them, or their ability to figure things out quickly because they have done such a good job learning the systems?  The more specific you are, the more they will understand what you value, and that will have the consequence of reinforcing that behavior in the future.

If you want more tips on writing thank yous, I thought that this guide was good one.

Want to do more than write a note?  This list has 10 low cost suggestions; just be sure to tie each of them to the effort so the employee recognizes the reward as a token of appreciation.


Don’t limit your gratitude to your team.

You can tell the people who support your work (your peers, the janitor, office manager, or customer service rep) they did something awesome (or even just helpful).  Oftentimes people only hear about their performance from their manager, so hearing you did a great job can be even more meaningful when it comes outside your chain of command.  And including their manager on such a note can be a booster to their career, too.

And don’t forget to tell your own boss what makes them great.  The compliments you get from your team are often the most meaningful (I know I treasure these!) so take a moment and let your manager why you like working for them, or what you have learned working with them.


Make it a ritual.

Add a calendar appointment to tell someone thank you each week (or if you are ambitious, every day!).  You don’t have to make it a big production (gifts, handwritten stationary, etc. – although those are nice things); just a simple email is all you need.


Tags: better leader, leadership, leadership practice, relationships,

Comments are closed.