I’m in the middle of Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s book Leading with Gratitude. I really enjoyed one of their previous books, The Carrot Principle, which provided great case studies on the importance of recognition in the work place as well as multiple suggestions on ways to recognize colleagues without spending a cent. Leading with Gratitude is a very readable sequel to the previous one, and focuses on the importance of gratitude in improving individual, team and company performance.
I’ve written previously about the importance of creating a culture of appreciation within teams and provided one way to do this regularly via retrospectives , but this book provides some additional insights and ideas.
The authors mention the research conducted by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer which indicated that a significant boost to our emotions and motivation comes from making progress in work which is meaningful. The research also shows that the more often we feel that we are making progress, the more creative and productive we are likely to be.
As project managers, we tend to be goal oriented, and recognizing our team’s efforts in achieving a major milestone is important. But it is equally important that we express sincere, regular gratitude for the small wins which our team members are achieving.
If you happen to work in person with your team members, it is easier to identify incremental progress and recognize it in real time. But this can also be done virtually if you are watching your team’s progress via work boards or following their discussions in collaborative chat tools.
Keeping a gratitude journal (or OneNote Notebook if you prefer) is also a good way to remind yourself about what’s going well and what might be acknowledged.
While it is important that leaders express gratitude, if by doing so team members start to do the same to each other, that creates a compounding effect.
One way to do this is during daily coordination events (e.g. Scrums, standups or huddles). While the focus of the events is to help the team coordinate their efforts towards the day’s goals, it can also be a good opportunity for an individual on the team to do a shout out for one of their colleagues.
Gratitude can also be baked into the working agreements of the team and how team members will act on it might vary. One example of doing this which comes from sales teams is to have a bell, squeaky toy or other type of noise maker which is triggered whenever someone has done something to be grateful for.
And if you are worried about diluting the value of gratitude by expressing it more frequently or thinking that team members will get tired or numb of it, don’t worry. Based on the extensive research done by the authors, they have not run into one instance where someone complained about being praised too much.
A new year has just got underway and if there is one resolution which is worth making and sticking to, it is to be more grateful.
(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores).