A little bit of gratitude goes a long way

I was stopped on my morning walk a couple of weeks ago by a reader of my last column.

The gentleman thanked me for writing about the manager that wants to cut you down. His wife had been experiencing less than ‘happy’ conditions at work and was suffering emotionally.

I am always dismayed when I hear that a workplace has anything less than an empowering and effective culture, particularly when you consider the research that has been conducted.

Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School.

She has been researching workplace motivation and the workplace environment for 35 years. I had the pleasure of interviewing her late last year. Her entire research life has been dedicated to the fact that work isn’t all about the person and their expertise.

Much depends on the social and work environments. In other words, it’s about how we emotionally connect, how we feel, how we are valued.

Dan Pink has also spent many years researching behavioural motivators. Some of his key findings include paying people enough money so you “take the issue of money off the table”. 

When people don’t have to worry about paying their mortgage or putting food on the table (think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) they are concentrating on the work. When he puts it like that, it sounds so obvious.

Most of us want to feel empowered and be self-directed. Most of us want to give our best. Most of us want to feel the satisfaction that comes with a job well done.

Atlassian, Google and other top performing organisations, have given teams time to work on ‘the stuff’ they wanted to. These autonomous days have led to the discovery of solutions to existing problems and ideating new products.

And a fact some find remarkable: people are motivated by recognition from peers and direct line managers, rather than the CEOs they have never met.

A close friend told me that he was touched by a simple text he recently received from his CEO.

He had previously lost all enthusiasm and motivation for his work due to an ineffective leader. Retirement was discussed, changing careers was considered and stress was high.

Fortuitously, a new CEO took over late last year. And things began improving immediately.

There was a new-found enthusiasm towards work. There was engagement. Because all of a sudden there was a leader who cared enough to respect and acknowledge his team.

SMALL GESTURES: Most of us want to give our best. Most of us want to feel the satisfaction that comes with a job well done. Picture: Christina Gerakiteys

SMALL GESTURES: Most of us want to give our best. Most of us want to feel the satisfaction that comes with a job well done. Picture: Christina Gerakiteys

So this year, after organising an event that was part of his normal job description, something amazing happened. Late that evening my friend received a text. A simple thanks for a job well done, even though it was a job that had to be done. There was a sense of satisfaction gratitude. One text. One simple text.

The secret of living is giving. In every aspect of our lives.

Christina Gerakiteys is an ideator, innovation and creativity expert, and facilitates the Rippler Effect Innovation Program.

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