“Gratitude is more than recognition and compliments” said Cherie Salonga, Project Coordinator at Enact.
You can think of it as building a pathway to deeper and more trusting relationships. Gratitude works because it is not exclusively about the tangible contributions people make, but also about who they are and their intrinsic value as a person. This drives deeper commitment between team members and a willingness to go the extra mile to support each other’s success. It also builds resilience for those tough conversations that need to happen periodically.
In our executive coaching practice at Enact Leadership, we have seen many leaders derail because they weren’t able to feel or express honest gratitude for the contributions of those around them. If you are a manager/leader looking to build a culture of gratitude in your team or organization, you can avoid pitfalls by focusing on the following 3 keys.
#1 Gratitude is not a program. The best way to generate a gratitude-based way of operating is to model it. Sincerely, often, and when it matters.
#2 It really does start with you. Adopt your own set of gratitude practices, which often means retraining your mind from its workplace socialization. We’ve been taught to be results-focused, problem-obsessed, and competitive in our business cultures. A simple starting point is keeping a “gratitude journal”, starting/ending your day with a gratitude reflection (to balance out the “what went wrong today” script most of us have internalized)
#3 Start small and sincere. A great first step with your team is to use a check-in process at the beginning of team meetings. Encourage everyone to spend about 3 minutes sharing how they are doing and something they are grateful for. Ask the team for ideas that promote a gratitude culture.
As an added bonus, research shows that practicing gratitude produces a more joyful life. So what are YOU grateful for?