Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Smatitude of Gratitude

(OK, I admit it: "smatitude" isn't really a word.)

Here we are, approaching the holidays, and I am looking back on the professional and emotional carnage this complicated year hath wrought. In 2009, my employer was taken over by the FDIC and then sold off for a song.  My employees were scattered to the wind;  some of them have yet to find new positions. On the home front, my little dog, who had been with us for 16 years, passed away.  And, of course, my own transition from big-company employee back to entrepreneur, writer, advisor, and work-at-home dad has not been without its difficulties.

To put it concisely: in many ways, this past year has sucked.

Like many others, though, I use this time of year as an opportunity to set aside the whining, and focus instead on the great good fortune that overwhelmingly and fundamentally defines my life.  Much of this gratitude is directed towards the various people I've had the good fortune to lead over the past couple of decades or so.  I've tried to show them my appreciation on a regular basis, but it's good to pause and dedicate a moment now for just that purpose.

Of course, offering your gratitude for the hard work and dedication of your team is simply appropriate and proper.  Your employees, through their efforts, have enhanced your career, and in the best cases, made your workdays more enjoyable through their companionship and professionalism. But, as blogger Ron Ashkenas points out on the Harvard Business Publishing blog, there are reasons beyond simple humanity and courtesy to share your gratitude with your team:

[T]he notion of "giving thanks" also is critical for driving organizational and individual improvement. Most research into individual development has shown that managers are more likely to change if they are given positive feedback that they can build upon, [than they are] when confronted with a litany of weaknesses and failures.
Simply put: offering gratitude for strong performance works better than discouraging poor performance.

Well, thanks to some seriously bad management at a now-defunct bank, I no longer have to worry about motivating my employees.  But I am still very grateful to my teams, recent and more remote, and to them I say:

Thank you for always making me look smarter and more skilled than I really am, by dint of your creativity and professionalism.

Thank you for putting up with me on the many, many occasions I showed up at work moody, grumpy, distracted, or all of the above.

Thank you for your considerable openness to my direction, feedback, and recommendations, and for your willingness to let me know when I was doing or suggesting something dumb, and for your direct but gently tactful way of saying so.

Thank you for the trust, both professional and personal, that you placed in me by allowing me to guide you in reaching your career goals and in managing the tricky balance between work and family.

I have a lot to learn, and I have made errors notable both in number and scope; I will no doubt continue to do so.  But I'm happy with who I am, and what I'm doing, and the way I'm going about it, and much of that I owe to the people who reported to me through the years.  And so, one more time, to all of you:  thank you.

PS And, as a final note: thank you to you, my readers.  Your feedback and nice comments have made working on this blog an incredibly rewarding effort.

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1 comment:

Shannon Hagedorn said...

Thank YOU Scott for always being supportive, encouraging and appreciative for my work, dedication and loyalty. I'm fortunate to have worked for you and will always be grateful for my time with with WIT Team. Happy Holidays - YOU ROCK!!