A Thanksgiving Challenge

Holiday stress has started already. When I greeted a colleague this morning, I could hear the stress in her voice. With a just over a week to go before Thanksgiving, she is already planning to host out of town guests, clean the house and prepare a feast for dozens of people. It can be overwhelming.

She is not alone. Although the goal of Thanksgiving is to foster gratitude, it often brings more stress than thankfulness.Mothers-in-law, crazy uncles, Black Friday shopping and holiday travel all contribute to a dull sense of dread. It is easy to forget to be thankful, both in our personal and professional lives.

Holiday stress is similar to work stress. Feeling like you have too much to do and not enough time? Working with people who are challenging? Feeling distracted, cynical or unappreciated? All these sources of stress apply equally to the holidays and work. One key to managing personal and professional stress is to shift your thinking and gain a new perspective through intentional gratitude.

Thankfulness in the workplace is both personal and organizational. Personal thankfulness relates to expressing appreciation to colleagues on a regular basis. Too often managers assume that all their team needs is a steady job and a paycheck. But telling others that you appreciate their work and talents helps:

  • Build Trust
  • Reduce Cynicism
  • Increase Confidence
  • Improve Relationships

Organizational thankfulness can transform a corporate culture into one marked by engagement, collaboration and productivity. While one person cannot change a corporate culture alone, there are things anyone can do to promote organizational thankfulness.

  1. Remember that attitudes and emotions are contagious. If you are careful to thank and encourage the people around you, others will probably do the same.
  2. Make gratitude part of your planning process. Add “Thank You” items to meeting agendas or include gratitude steps while planning projects.
  3. Look for “Positive Deviance”. Managers who identify individuals who are doing well when others are struggling can often identify perspectives, ideas or practices that improve the overall performance of a team.

This Thanksgiving, challenge yourself to intentionally practice personal and organizational thankfulness. Take a few moments to thank the people you work with. The impact can be profound.

Let us know how you used gratitude to improve your workplace.