There are a few rare opportunities like this annual celebration of gratitude surrounding Thanksgiving..
Jeffrey Meyers posted a wonderful reminder of not only the logic but added a host of relevant ways to express your genuine appreciation for services and friendships rendered.
4 Strategies for Nurturing "Thanks" in Your Business this Thanksgiving
Posted by Jeffrey Meyers on Wed, Nov 23, 2011
What does Thanksgiving mean to businesses? Besides the obvious – like turkey and trimmings for feasts
and the start of the holiday shopping season on Black Friday – there’s an opportunity for all organizations
to harness the spirit of Thanksgiving year-round as a way to engage your constituents and improve your
business. Show that you not only appreciate your organization’s accomplishments,
but the people who make it possible.
Just as the “annual” performance review should be a formality amidst a year-long culture of coaching and dialogue, saying thanks shouldn’t happen only around Thanksgiving. Instead, make it a part of your routine to show that you appreciate and value those with whom you work.
“2-4-6-8! Who do you appreciate?!”
Here’s a list of 8 groups of constituents to whom you should express your thanks and appreciation.
- Customers. This should be a no-brainer. Without customers, you’d be out of business. Let them know that you appreciate their patronage and look forward to serving them long into the future. By showing your appreciation, you help to build a stronger connection with them, which can prevent your competitors from luring them away.
- Employees. No one is irreplaceable, but you should still thank your employees for their work, dedication, and commitment to your organization. Recognize when people go above-and-beyond the norm, but don’t just wait for those occasions to say thanks. Those few words can help to energize and motivate your workforce.
- Bosses, management, and executive leaders. We can all conjure an image of a bad boss, but there’s no equivalent stereotype of a good, nurturing, effective manager. We expect it because that’s their job and ultimately take them for granted. Tell your leaders and supervisors that you appreciate them (but avoid sucking up in the process!).
- Vendors and suppliers. At this time of year it’s customary to receive cards or small gifts from your vendors. Most companies, especially ones with sales and customer service reps, make this common practice as a way to keep their clients happy and keep your business in the new year. But how often do you thank them for what they do? Give them feedback, especially when it’s positive and deserved – they may work even harder for you.
- Partners. Partners are a unique category – similar to vendor relationships, but likely without a financial arrangement. Many professional services firms will partner with business schools or associations to conduct research as a means to keep their finger on the pulse of their field and maintain a position of expertise in what they do. These relationships are usually a win-win for both parties, but realize that your partners could seek different partners if they don’t feel appreciated.
- Neighbors and community. You might have a highly visible operation or be virtually invisible in a nondescript office park. Nevertheless, use this occasion to show your appreciation for the city, town, or neighborhood where you work. Businesses and their surrounding community coexist in a symbiotic relationship that you could strengthen by showing support for their needs, charities and events. Food and clothing drives are popular this time of year.
- Alumni. Your former employees helped to get you where you are today. Surprise them by reaching out to them to thank them and let them know what you’re up to. Stay connected with this important group, who can not only serve as brand ambassadors but also customers.
- Your employees’ families. In mid-April a neighbor shared a story about how impressed she was with her husband’s company: He’s an accountant and had just finished another grueling tax season. Rather than just thank the employees for the sacrifices they make that time of year, they also thanked their families for their perseverance and presented them with gift certificates for dining out. Are there opportunities for you to connect with your workforce’s families now or throughout the year?
4 Strategies for Using “Thanks” to Improve Your Business
Many companies have programs for customer loyalty, employee recognition, years of service, and for performance. Each of these are examples of ways to say thanks. While these are important, they are typically annual events. Considering each of the above groups of your constituents, here’s a strategy you can employ to adapt a culture of Thanksgiving in your organization throughout the year:
1. Get in the habit of saying thanks throughout the year. Don’t take any of your constituents for granted, nor the work they do and good fortunes they provide or help to create. Let them know they’re appreciated, and they’ll respond accordingly. A sign of appreciation doesn’t have to be grandiose, elaborate, or expensive. Companies will host parties, give gifts, or send cards expressing their thanks.
All of these are fine if you can do it. But don’t let that be your single action for the year so you can “check that box” until the following November. Instead, challenge yourself and your team to adopt a culture of giving thanks throughout the year.
2. Be sincere. Don’t be too over-the-top in delivering your thanks or do so in a flat, unfeeling monotone. People will detect when you’re going through the motions, which can be worse than saying nothing at all. But they will also take notice when your thanks is heartfelt and genuine, and possibly work harder to earn it again.
3. Use Thanksgiving as a time to take inventory of what you’re truly thankful for. What’s gotten you through the last year, month, or week? Who has been indispensible, inventive, and reliable to your business? In addition to giving thanks where it’s deserved, perhaps you should find ways to invest in the people or processes on this list to ensure that you continue to get the most from them, and that they’re rewarded for their efforts and results.
4. Examine what you’re not thankful for. This list is a good reflection of things that aren’t going well and might point you towards areas in need of short- or long-term change. (Hint: You can then tie this list to your New Year’s Resolutions as something to work on in the following year.) Hopefully by next Thanksgiving any items on this list can be included on your “thankful” list.