“Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.” – Phillips Brooks
As you gather for Thanksgiving, I challenge you to think of all the good times you’ve had with one another. Count your blessings, share happy thoughts, optimistic plans and dreams with your family, friends and colleagues.
The tradition of Thanksgiving taught me to appreciate what is simple and what is good in life. I learned that if I want the attitude of gratitude to be ever present in my life and work, I must invest the positive energy of this holiday season 365/24/7. You and I have to commit to making our enthusiasm and energy revitalize everyone.
So, you might ask, how do I do this? Here is what I learned about Thanksgiving over my lifetime. Too often it is less about focusing us on giving thanks than it is about overindulging on food and drink. I also learned when I worked in England that ironically, during the same week as our Thanksgiving, the British recognize National Thank You Week. More interesting however, is that it is not just about the vague notion of giving thanks – it’s aimed at helping us thank the people we live and work with everyday.
I learned that saying thank you to people isn’t just a matter of common courtesy. I read a 10-year leadership study of more than 200,000 managers and employees which revealed that saying “thank you” equates to bigger profits. I am not surprised because my granny taught me long ago that saying thanks is a great motivational tool; after all who doesn’t like to be thanked? If all this is true, then why is it so hard to do the thanking. It is so difficult it seems, that I now know why my English friends say “cheers.” I guess it is easier but I think it lacks the sincerity and depth of appreciation that a simple, but I guess hard to say “thank you” bestows. Given my Granny’s admonition, I say lots of thank yous – to friends, relatives, clients, vendors, staff, volunteers, you get the idea. So in this season dedicated to giving thanks, let me suggest who you might want to thank and how to do it effectively.
1. Office staff and Interns. Brewing coffee, making copies, stuffing envelopes. On life’s totem pole, these folks are often on the lowest station in most offices, somewhere below the lunch lady (who is at least typically guaranteed a paycheck and benefits). These folks do grunt work in the hopes of carving out a higher niche. Most interns, despite their millions of hours of labor, not only get no money but also little thanks. This makes no sense. For one thing, it’s rude. For another, they are out there talking about you and your office. Make sure that they love you, they are your champions. All it takes is a small gesture – or you might even want to consider a series of them. Send a simple, handwritten note to recognize a specific thing they did to make the workplace better.
2. How about your Lawyer? For real, I am not kidding! It’s estimated that about three-quarters of all lawyers provide free services to disadvantaged people or the organizations that serve them – about 20 million hours a year. That’s about the equivalent of $5 billion a year in donated value to the not-for-profit sector. That deserves a big THANK YOU.
3. Those who serve you. You know who I am talking about, those folks we often refer to as the “little people.” That reference is a bit tacky but that is exactly why I use it. The people I am referencing are the FedEx guy, the UPS guy, the cleaners, the girl who sorts mail for your building, the repairman who is in our office way too often to fix the hapless copy machine. Do you know any of them by name? If not, shame on you! Give your staff a quiz and see how many of them can name 10 of the people who regularly make your jobs easier and your business work without a hitch. I hope you and your colleagues score better than 50%. Make it a point to greet everyone by name. Who are the people in your office that are invisible? The people that make sure you can do your job? Learn their names. Talk to them. Thank them. You might be surprised to learn that they think of your office as their workplace too, whether they are formally on your payroll or not.
What I have written here isn’t anything that will cost money. I don’t want you to buy anyone a fruitcake! So be polite – it’s good business. The British one-upped us by having a week of thanks instead of our one day. So let’s take their idea and go one better. Let’s take time every day to say thanks. Cheers!
“May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!” – Anonymous