A Time Management Article by Harold Taylor

Have you ever wondered why you are seeing so many books and articles on what used to be considered non-business topics, such as trust, gratitude, and thankfulness? It is part of the trend to provide training in soft skills. Soft skills will soon be valued higher than hard skills as top management expects managers to communicate and motivate effectively, while excelling at creativity, resilience, problem solving, and so on.

Although it has always been recognized that people are a company’s greatest asset, the focus in the last few decades has been on technology. This is changing. And change has accelerated with the pandemic. It has caused many business leaders to recognize the importance of such things as kindness and empathy during tough times, as well as the necessity of resilience, determination, and creativity when the work environment and the selling environment suddenly change. Character becomes crucial for accomplishing collaboration. And gratitude is no longer gratuitous.

Gratitude and thankfulness are two different words, and have subtly different meanings, even though they are normally used interchangeably. Some dictionaries define thankfulness as “pleased and relieved,” or something similar, while gratitude is defined as “showing an appreciation of kindness.”

Thankfulness occurs when you recognize a benefit that comes your way. You might be thankful you won the lottery or thankful it didn’t rain on your golf game. You are thankful for something. But you can also be thankful to someone because of something they said to you or did for you. When you are thankful to someone, it usually results in gratitude, which prompts you to act accordingly by giving them something in return, whether it is a “Thankyou” note, gift, or a favour of some kind.

The main difference then, is that thankfulness is a feeling, and gratitude is an action. It is a thankful appreciation or recognition of something that has been done for us, either by a person, by life itself, or by God. In the case of employees in the workplace, it is recognition of the time, work, and effort contributed by each person in the organization.

In a study by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that 93% of employees who reported feeling valued, said that they are motivated to do their best at work. And 88% reported feeling engaged.

Recognition is one of the great motivators mentioned long ago by Frederick Hertzberg and other behavioral scientists, yet it is not commonly practiced. Leaders may be thankful for having capable, productive, and even cooperative employees, but this is not often expressed verbally to the employees, much less demonstrated by some form of recognition, such as, individualized gifts, acknowledgement at meetings, or whatever.

The lack of gratitude on the part of supervisors could be one reason for a lack of gratitude on the part of the employees, and for poor performance. Janice Kaplan in her book, The Gratitude Diaries, said that when asked in a survey how grateful they were for a variety of things, “Your current job” finished dead last. Only 39% expressed gratitude for their present employment. And Kellie Wong, in her article, Organizational Culture: Definition, Importance, and Development, states that 76% of employees don’t feel especially recognized by superiors. She says that “experts agree that when an organization makes appreciating employees a part of its culture, important metrics like employee engagement, retention, and productivity improve.”

Robert Emmons, author of the book Gratitude Works, is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He mentions that “ground-breaking research has shown that when people regularly cultivate gratitude, they experience a multitude of psychological, physical, interpersonal, and spiritual benefits. It has one of the strongest links to mental health, and satisfaction with life, of any personality trait – more so than even optimism.” Some of the benefits include the ability to cope with stress, increased feelings of energy, a greater sense of purpose and resilience, and an increased feeling of self-worth.

A regular, ongoing display of gratitude by the leadership goes a long way in developing a culture of trust within any organization. And The ability to express gratitude is only one of the many soft skills mentioned that must be developed in today’s leaders.



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