Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is a time when people are more inclined to share why they are grateful. While this makes nice conversation over the holiday season, giving thanks has the potential to be even more impactful. Practicing gratitude in your firm can improve client relationships and firm culture, which can lead to higher retention and job satisfaction as well as repeat customers and higher revenue. Here are a few simple strategies on how to make the most of giving thanks.
The University of California, Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center website says the following about practicing gratitude:
"Yes, 'thank you' is an essential, everyday part of family dinners, trips to the store, business deals, and political negotiations. That might be why so many people have dismissed gratitude as simple, obvious, and unworthy of serious attention. But that’s starting to change. Recently scientists have begun to chart a course of research aimed at understanding gratitude and the circumstances in which it flourishes or diminishes. They’re finding that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
- Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
- Higher levels of positive emotions;
- More joy, optimism, and happiness;
- Acting with more generosity and compassion;
- Feeling less lonely and isolated."
While these benefits sound limited to personal applications, they can be translated into the following advantages your firm:
- Firm wide decrease in sick days, increased wellness and clarity
- Positive work attitudes and increased cooperation
- Improved client service
- Increased collaboration
Now that we have defined some benefits, let’s explore how you can start practicing gratitude in your firm.
Document and Celebrate Success
An important part of giving thanks is having a clear understanding about what you are thankful for. Quarterly game plans and updating your resume are two ways to help make practicing gratitude a habit in your firm while also contributing to the success of the firm and the individuals.
Quarterly Game Plans
Did a team member complete a big project, or create a new process to increase productivity? Did the firm meet revenue goals, win a large account, or receive an award or recognition? These are all reasons to give thanks that often go unrecognized. Successes can be more easily identified when you are in the habit of setting and reviewing both long and short term goals. Quarterly game plans are a helpful tool for setting goals, reviewing progress and acknowledging accomplishments for individuals and for the firm. The process is simple. You use a form like this to record what you would like to accomplish in the next quarter. At the end of the quarter review your progress, share and celebrate achievements.
After you have used the 90 day game plan to identify your achievements, it is time to update your resume. Resumes are not just for job interviews. They are a way to collect and communicate your accomplishments and chart your progress. They are also used for networking on social media sites like LinkedIn. Resumes aren’t just for individuals. They can be modified to showcase firm knowledge and capabilities. Your firm’s unique accomplishments set you apart from competitors. Make sure your firm website is up to date with relevant and timely information and utilize social media to tout firm successes. This is a great marketing tool that gives potential clients a better understanding of your capabilities. Keeping this information current helps to highlight successes and identify opportunities for gratitude.
Firm Wide Community Service
Sharing your time and talents with others usually makes you more grateful for what you have. Last year the entire BCI staff (including our owners Gary Boomer, Jim Boomer and Sandra Wiley) spent time volunteering at an emergency shelter for the homeless in our community. Our tasks included stocking supplies, organizing storage areas, moving office equipment. We have participated in other activities like gathering meals or clothing for families in need. During these experiences we became more aware of basic comforts that we take for granted. We have also become more thankful for our team as we worked together to accomplish a goal for others. I encourage you to look for opportunities for your firm to serve in the community and get as many people involved as possible. In addition to increased community connection and exposure for the firm, you will likely get back more than expected.
Send Notes of Thanks
Perhaps the simplest way to show gratitude is to say thank you to both team members and clients. At Boomer Consulting, we use "Shout Outs” to give thanks internally. Sue Thiemann described the initiative this way in her article "Important Words to Use in the Workplace!”
"Shout Outs are sent and logged from our database. All members receive notice of each posting submitted (Public appreciation – what a novel idea.). These are tracked within the database and may be viewed anytime by any BCI member. Staff meetings are a good time to view the 'Shout Outs' submitted within the past week. This reinforces appreciation shown by and to all members.”
While electronic methods are convenient, don’t underestimate the personal touch of handwritten notes.
Documenting and celebrating success, participating in firm-wide community service and sending notes of thanks are just a few ways to practice gratitude in your firm. Making a commitment to these habits will create a culture that attracts and retains the best team members and clients.