Thanksgiving is around the corner, and, like much of 2020, it promises to be a wholly different experience for the majority of us. No matter how we spend that day, the spirit of the month of November—and the onset of the holiday season—should remain one of giving and thankfulness.
That mentality permeates not only our personal lives, but our working lives. And, while those are largely disrupted as well, it stands to reason that there is no better time to embrace gratitude and share it with those around us.
One of the things we know is that the uncertainty and craziness that have been 2020 have reset our needs to the most basic. Safety, once taken for granted, is now top of mind. Belonging, once achieved more easily through everyday connection and team atmospheres, has been threatened by separation. As a leader, you have not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to rein in those fears and bridge those divides—and that happens through communication.
Without the right kind of communication, your people are left wondering: Am I safe? Am I connected? Do we share a future together? These feelings breed a culture of doubt and anxiousness. And, while you might not have all the answers yourself, what you do have is the ability to share your gratitude.
Leading with gratitude is the foundation and the gateway to protecting and maintaining your positive culture and relationship with others. When your people know you appreciate them, and they know why you appreciate them, they’re more likely to be resilient through uncertain times and resistant to the fight or flight impulses they might be experiencing.
Whether you’re operating mostly in the office again or many of your people are still working from home, you can employ technology to help you get the word of appreciation out. Transmit weekly live or recorded video messages to communicate broadly to your people. Schedule frequent, virtual one-on-ones with your department heads and set them up with talking points and a united message to spread to their teams. Use public recognition to spotlight exceptional work. And, send out eCards to individuals to ensure they know they’re valued, important, and part of your big picture.
Gratitude may not be able to fix all of the problems of today, but it can go a long way to creating a stronger, more confident culture. It’s also contagious—and the more you share it, the more others will feel comfortable sharing it, too.