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Make Giving Thanks a Year-Round Leadership Practice

The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us to be thankful for the things that we have in life and for those who make an impact in our communities –our staff. But giving thanks to those we work with doesn’t have to be a one-day event. Here’s some of the best advice I have come across on giving thanks to your staff – not only this holiday season – but on a daily basis too.

T-ake the time to create a positive interaction with your staff.

The Happiness Advantage - Shawn Achor

From The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, one of our ICMA Conference keynote speakers, states that even brief encounters can form “high-quality connections,” which fuel openness, energy, and authenticity among co-workers, and in turn lead to a whole host of measurable, tangible gains in performance.

He further explains that “One conversation, one e-mail exchange, one moment of connecting in a meeting can infuse both participants with a greater sense of vitality, giving them a bounce in their steps and a greater capacity to act.”

H-elp your teammates.

True North - Bill George

Authentic leaders help their teammates, whether it is with a personal problem or a career problem, by counseling, offering suggestions, or assisting team members in making vital contacts. That in turn is highly empowering, states Bill George, author of True North, Discover Your Authentic Leadership.

The book highlights that Merck CEO Roy Vagelos ate regularly in the company cafeteria where he asked people about their work and the challenges they were facing. He took notes about the conversations and then thought about the specific problems for a few days before calling the employees back with his ideas.

A-ward (or reward) your staff for a job well done.

While not a leadership book per say, Human Resource Management in Local Government, offers great motivator examples for high performers. Here are several monetary rewards other than salary adjustments to consider:

  • Training opportunities. Local governments can pay for training opportunities of the employee’s choice, including workshops and classes offered through accredited universities and professional schools.
  • Extra time off. Depending on the amount of paid time off currently offered by the organization, many employees consider extra time off to be a highly desirable feature of employment.

Nonmonetary rewards include flexible work arrangements, awards such as certificates of achievement accompanied by public recognition from the supervisor, or the opportunity to provide their talent and input on special projects or in a routine decision-making setting.

N-ever stop engaging.

Drive - Daniel H. Pink

In the book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink who has worked with us on the Leading Ideas Series, suggests that creating a supportive environment for employees to encourage their intrinsic motivations can change the dynamics of any organization. If the workplace is set up in a way that inhibits intrinsic motivation, managers “can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behavior toppling like dominoes.” When a manager invests in discovering the intrinsic motivation for the people of that organization, the employees stand a greater chance at forming a cohesive working system. For the manager this translates to greater efficiency, better time management skills, and reduced absenteeism.

K-eep investing in social connections.

Studies show that each positive interaction employees have during the course of the work day actually helps return the cardiovascular system back to resting levels (a benefit often termed “work recovery”), and that over the long haul, employees with more of these interactions become protected from the negative effects of job strain. Each connection also lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, which helps employees recover faster from work-related stress and makes them better prepared to hand it in the future.

So in essence, Shawn Achor states that investing in social connections means that you’ll find it easier to interpret adversity as a path to growth and opportunity; and when you do have to experience the stress; you’ll bounce back from it faster and better protected against its long-term negative effects.

S-ay thank you as often as possible.

An email is always nice – but a personal, handwritten thank you note goes much further.

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Pamela Antil

Very nicely written! Thank you!

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