Six Effective/Affordable Ways For
Improving Your Organization�s Morale, Motivation & Bottom Line
In most organizations, daily operations are so busy and stressful
that showing gratitude is fairly low on the list of priorities. But
according to Todd Patkin, cultivating an organizational culture of
appreciation can be the best possible strategy for growing your
�If your organization hasn�t made a conscious effort to instill an
attitude of gratitude into your organization, you�re ignoring one of
your most useful and lucrative tools,� says Todd Patkin, author of
the new book Finding Happiness: One Man�s Quest to Beat
Depression and Anxiety and Let the Sunshine In.
Patkin speaks from years of experience. For nearly two decades, he
was instrumental in leading his family�s business, Autopart
International, to new heights until it was finally bought by Advance
Auto Parts in 2005. During that time, he learned just how valuable a
culture of gratitude can be, and he made it his number-one priority
to always put his people and their happiness first. (Even when his
company had to stop throwing big holiday parties, it always gave a
free turkey to each employee at Thanksgiving!)
�In so many organizations, employees go through their days assuming
that their coworkers, and especially their bosses, don�t notice or
appreciate all of the hard work that they do,� Patkin explains. �And
if that�s the way you feel, you will just go through the motions.
You won�t have any true motivation or dedication, and your
productivity will be mediocre at best.�
In the midst of an already-tough economy, Patkin points out, this is
the absolute last thing you want for your organization. In a very
real way, he insists, tapping into the spirit of gratitude can tip
the balance between either success and growth or stagnation and
failure. Meaningful workplace gratitude is easiest to spark when it
comes from leaders, but eventually that attitude will start to also
spread between employees; from there, it�ll even trickle down to
customers. All of that is great for business.
Helpful tips an attitude of gratitude:
Always say �thank you.� It�s easy to use the excuse that we
don�t have time to hand out compliments and thanks like candy. But
according to Patkin, though, there�s no better way to use your time.
By taking just thirty seconds longer to get back to your office, you
have improved another person�s mood, day, and productivity level.
You�ll also be making yourself more approachable and likeable, and
over time your team will begin to relate to you more positively.
�I will say that as a leader, I was somewhat unique in my company
because I was a big hugger. Once my people recognized this as a sign
of my appreciation and esteem, they would start to worry if I saw
them and didn�t end our conversation with a hug! Yes, it�s somewhat
countercultural, but I encourage you to incorporate hugs or literal
pats on the back into your own repertoire, assuming you can do so
safely and comfortably. Lastly, remember to acknowledge it when
someone else gives you a compliment or a thank you � it�s important
for others to know that their gratitude is noticed and appreciated
in order for it to continue.�
Take intent into account.
The fact is, when you�re in a position to make a grand gesture of
gratitude, your intentions may be consistently good�but your plans
might not always be as successful as you�d hoped. Patkin recalls
coming up with many show-the-love schemes. He would send high
achievers to sports games, highlight various employees in company
newsletters, plan lavish company parties, and hold raffles, to name
a few examples. Sometimes those plans were well received; other
times they weren�t.
�Inevitably, there will always be some negativity. So you need to
remember that despite negative feedback, showing gratitude is always
the right thing � and employees probably loved your gesture. Also,
if the shoe is on the other foot and an expression of gratitude
that�s aimed at you misses the mark, say thank you for the thought
and go on about your day.�
Start being more open.
In your average office, communication is far from completely open.
No one wants to bug the boss unnecessarily or meddle in a coworker�s
projects. This sort of �keep-to-yourself� culture doesn�t tend to
foster total understanding or genuine gratitude.
�If you�re a leader, constructively tell your people how they can
improve their performances,� he says. And no matter where you fall
on your company�s hierarchy, learn how to receive constructive
criticism � if you don�t accept advice and requests well, you�ll
stop getting them and you�ll stop improving. Essentially you�ll be
stuck right where you are.
However, when everyone is committed to openness and to sparking
growth, there will be more improvements, more success, and more
opportunities to show genuine gratitude. Showing others that you
care enough to either help them or to improve yourself is a form of
gratitude in and of itself. That�s because you�re demonstrating that
your team is worth the investment of your time, energy, and advice.
Learn to graciously accept thanks.
Yes, giving thanks is a very important building block when it comes
to cultivating a gratitude culture in your organization. But how you
respond to appreciation is also important. If you brush off
compliments or ignore expressions of gratitude � no matter what your
reason � you�ll eventually stop hearing �thanks!� altogether. Plus
you�ll be discouraging the person complimenting you from reaching
out to others in the same way.
Keep the gratitude going outside of your organization.
Once you notice that those two important words � thank you � are
being uttered on a regular basis in your office, make an effort to
extend them outside of the people on your payroll. It�s vital to let
those whom you serve know how much they mean to you so that they
don�t take their business elsewhere. Thank your customers or the
people you serve for choosing your organization, and for trusting
your team. This is something that many clients don�t hear, so when
they do, their loyalty to your company is strengthened.
�I used to encourage my store managers to treat their clients like
kings � I�d ask them to write thank-you notes after big sales and to
send birthday cards to loyal customers. Our firm also frequently
sent drivers with coolers full of sodas around to our accounts when
it was especially warm out. Once we even rented an ice cream truck
to visit our best customers so that they could have a free frozen
treat on a hot day. Over time, this strategy of appreciation brought
us more business and it caused our customers to be less
Use gratitude to reinforce stellar performances.
Remember that repeated positive feedback towards a worker, will
reinforce that behavior. Using gratitude to shape your team�s habits
and priorities can be every bit as valuable as training programs and
industry conferences � at a fraction of the time and cost.
�Gratitude is an amazing motivator,� Patkin concludes, �it
strengthens employee and customer loyalty, and it really can allow
you to see a positive change in your company�s bottom line. And
especially in today�s not-so-stellar economic environment, it�s
extra-important to give your people something to be positive about
and thankful for.�
(Todd Patkin grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating
from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the
next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was
purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his
main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community,
spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn
how to be happy.)