Some may think that gratitude may feel awkward at work. That it’s too woo-woo to bring into executive meetings, team building sessions, or 1:1 manager updates. The fact is that the experience of gratitude, the energy that is evoked when we voice what we are thankful for, or perform acts of gratitude like sending a thank you note creates the fuel for momentum, creation, and regeneration. It gets people to lean in and fill up on the positivity that is often not part of the experience at work. And, isn’t that what we all need and want at work: to feel seen, valued, and have a place to contribute and also be filled?
Check out this story of gratitude and how it transformed a team of engineers from a Brooklyn technology company.
On the closing day of a 3-day strategic offsite meeting, the team’s energy was understandably low. They were extremely tired and lacked the vitality necessary to complete the next session we were about to lead. Our team noticed this “lull” and immediately spoke to what we noticed in the room. They all admitted they were “fried” and had a long commute ahead of them; in other words, they wanted to wrap things up quickly and get out of there.
We knew we couldn’t be successful completing the final section of the retreat with the team on empty and certainly didn’t want 3 days of great work to end on a low note. We had to capture the takeaways from the three days and name the next steps for the leadership team, which required their full focus and participation.
We quickly pivoted our agenda, and the rest of the meeting went like this… Each person was asked to name how they were feeling at the moment. “Tired, annoyed, low-energy, exhausted,” were the words.
Then, we asked them to join us in an experiment that would energize the room as well as themselves, and they all agreed. By offering this sudden pivot, we piqued their interest. We began by asking each to say ONE thing they appreciated about their teammates. Each person shared what they were most grateful for. It didn’t matter if it was from what they accomplished during the retreat or from that entire year.
As each person went, you could feel the energy of the room lift. After the final contribution, there were 25 statements of gratitude filing a large sheet of white paper they all were facing. With all of them looking at their collective statements of gratitude, they each filled up on what they had accomplished, what they were in appreciation for, and what they were looking forward to in the future. The energy in the room was transformed. It was filled with fuel each of them could feel and also take in themselves. This exercise completely shifted the mood and no one felt depleted or tired at the end of this. They all felt elevated to “give” gratitude and felt empowered by receiving it.
NEW ENERGY FILLED THE ROOM.
COULD THEY EACH FEEL IT?
HOW DID THEY FEEL DIFFERENTLY THAN BEFORE?
The new words that the team used to describe how they felt when the exercise ended were “awake, ready, transformed, energized, happy, and fulfilled.” More importantly, the effects of sharing appreciation out loud lasted beyond the completion of the retreat.
Gratitude, or statements of appreciation, have the power to transform. Gratitude has the power to positively shift physical spaces and personal emotional states which can have a profound effect on your collective team experience. This positive energy fueled the rest of the meeting which ended with greater productivity, more insight, and creativity towards the work at hand.
With this new energy, we were able to finish the final business task at hand and end the retreat on a high note!
Gratitude Practice for Your Next Meeting
To bring gratitude into your team next time you notice the energy waning, ask this simple question and appoint someone to capture everyone’s responses on a white board:
- What is going well in this project?
- What are we most proud of that this team has accomplished?
- Name one thing we are grateful for working on this project, working for this company?
- What do you most appreciate about ….?
After completing everyone’s contribution, take time as a group to absorb everyone’s responses. Take time to notice how it changed the room, changed how each person feels about the work, the project, and how to hurdle whatever challenges you all face.
Leave the white board intact as a reminder.
Feel free to reach out to us if you would like us to facilitate a history walk, strategy session, or simple gratitude reflection workshop where this kind of energy can be cultivated to fuel work success, team wins, and personal leader fulfillment.