Thanksgiving is the holiday where we are encouraged to be thankful for the good things in our lives -- health, safety, adequate food, clothing and shelter, plus all the material blessings we have. For most people, Thanksgiving is usually more of a personally-focused celebration, including sharing meals and time with family and friends.
But the Thanksgiving holiday season can also be an opportunity to focus on, and be reminded of, the positive aspects of our work lives. This is especially true in these more difficult economic times, where many who desire employment are unable to find work or have to settle for a job beneath their professional capabilities.
For supervisors, managers, business owners and other organization leaders, the Thanksgiving holiday is an excellent reminder to both remember and communicate the most valuable asset in your workplace -- the people who work there (both employees and volunteers).
While many people sarcastically say, “I’d enjoy my work more, if it weren’t for the people;” in reality, most of us have highly talented and valuable colleagues. And a few minutes of reflection can help each of us identify those positive characteristics that our team members bring to the workplace each day.
Identifying the positive characteristics of colleagues.
Think about the individuals you see and work with regularly.
- What do they do that makes you smile?
- What character quality do they demonstrate, that if not present, would really make life at work tough? (e.g. dependability, thoroughness, punctuality, honesty)
- What talents or skills do they regularly demonstrate that are part of who they are? (e.g. good communication skills, accurate detailed work, being a good problem solver, creative).
Make a list of your teammates, along with the characteristics you’ve identified.
Communicating your appreciation.
While it’s nice (for you) to reflect on and be thankful for the top quality coworkers you have, it would make their day to hear from you what you appreciate about them. Let me give you some tips that will make the appreciation communicated really hit the mark.
- Make sure your praise is specific and personal. General, impersonal praise is like eating mashed potatoes without gravy or butter -- blah. Use their name. Tell them specifically how their positive characteristic makes your life better. Give a specific example, if possible.
- Communicate in a way that is comfortable for you. You can tell them verbally, write an email, or write a handwritten note in a Thanksgiving card. It doesn’t have to be a big deal or production. Just do it.
- Absolutely be genuine. Don’t try to fake it, and don’t overstate your appreciation. Make sure your tone of voice, facial expression and body language match what you are communicating. If you are rushed or uptight about something, wait until you have relaxed before talking to them.
A small act of communicating your appreciation to your colleagues may make their whole Thanksgiving a very special holiday. And the rewards you may reap in the coming weeks may be bountiful as well.