Prior to our family gathering of ten around the Thanksgiving table at our home, I sought inspiration to elevate the meaning of my “giving thanks” for the bounty before us. In my search I found the account of William Bradford’s first enactment to celebrate a bountiful harvest. I had forgotten, or missed, the fact that the pilgrims were initially alarmed when the 90+ Indians rsvp’d … only to be relieved when they brought the bounty of their own hunting with deer and turkeys.
My attempt to elevate fell short by my own metrics, and that caused me to reflect on what makes an effective, or meaningful, expression of gratitude. My elusive standard is “will it be remembered” by the family after the table is cleared … or even months later?
If we transpose the act of thanksgiving from the family setting to the workplace, the recipe for effective expressions has three key ingredients:
First, assuming your family-like culture exist, there is no equal to expressions of gratitude than those from the CEO.
Second, take advantage of those occasions … milestones, corporate successes … to express gratitude to everyone – boardroom to mailroom.
Third, the most important metric for any expression is the relevance and importance – personally – to the chief executive who communicates from the heart … in his or her own her own words.
Consultants Kevin and Jackie Frieberg, known by me for their consulting work and their book Nuts! about the culture of Southwest Airlines, wrote this about gratitude: “gratitude is a sign of wisdom and maturity, a hallmark of confident humility. Show us a corporate culture infused with gratitude and we will show you a culture of civility, compassion, and courtesy. It is a culture where people are not weighed down by the toxicity of complaining, a culture where people find the freedom to soar.”
So, if I followed my own recipe, my holiday expressions to family would be specific ( things I care about and things that our family values ) and from the heart. The latter – I think that’s what people remember!