Thanksgiving is the time when we sit down with our families and take stock of what we are grateful for in our lives. Typically, people think of what they’re grateful for in their personal lives, but it’s also important to show gratitude for your employees, customers, and other professional connections that go above and beyond for you.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with expecting excellence. We encourage owners to expect excellence from their security officers and then hold them to high standards, but that doesn’t mean you should take it for granted when they meet those standards by exhibiting excellence, thoughtfulness, and kindness.
What Is Gratitude?
First, here is a list of things that gratitude is not.
- 10% of holiday sales to loyal customers
- iTunes gift cards for employees
- Christmas cards with the same stock phrase
All that is holiday stunts. We’re talking about genuine, human gratitude for the customers, employees, and vendors that sustain your business. This is about taking the time to recognize that everything you do would be impossible with all these people, and letting them know how much you appreciate their contribution.
Most importantly, gratitude is a habit, not an action. Practicing genuine gratitude means focusing on the positives and not taking them for granted whenever they happen.
The Broken Tile Test
One good way to think about practicing gratitude is something I call the “Broken Tile” test. What it really boils down to is whether or not you fixate on the negatives. When you walk into a beautiful restaurant with great food, is your attention drawn to the one broken tile on the floor? When one of your officers always turns in great reports, do you only comment on the one with a typo?
It’s easy to fixate on the problems and mistakes, especially because as an owner it’s usually your job to fix them. Unfortunately, only pointing out the negatives is a recipe for making people feel unappreciated.
We have a tendency to try to compartmentalize our personal and professional lives, but it just doesn’t work that way. What happens to you on a professional level impacts your emotional well being. Employees and customers don’t stop being human beings just because they come into the store or office, and they still have the basic human cravings for appreciation and acceptance.
Gratitude Can Be Selfish
We have a tendency to think of gratitude as being “selfless”, but the truth is that practicing gratitude on a regular basis can be very beneficial to the bottom line.
I think of a quote from Dr. Christiane Northrup, “Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.”
Showing gratitude when customers choose your business encourages them to come back. Recognizing when your employees go above and beyond makes them want to keep exceeding expectations.
Think about times when you were around someone who had a genuine attitude of gratitude. It felt great, didn’t it? Now think about it impacts your life when you adopt that same attitude.
- You feel absolutely awesome.
- People around you feel awesome
- People are motivated to do more of the same things that inspired gratitude in the first place
- You will feel inspired to grow, reach, and do
- You begin to become keenly aware of other things to be gracious for
- You feel and show respect for purpose, people and position
Fill A Need
Businesses exist to fill a need. We tend to think of that role simply in the context of the product or service that helps out a customer, but it can go beyond that. Businesses also fill the need for employees to have stable jobs, and for communities to have strong institutions.
Why not go one step further, and have your business fill the need people have to feel appreciated and accepted? As we discussed in “Why Do Good Security Guards Quit”, not addressing that need can result in higher turnover. People want to be around gratitude, and if it’s not forthcoming from you, they’ll have no problem with moving on the first chance they get.
If you want to retain employees, develop customer loyalty, and work with quality people, then try to get away from just being grateful one day out of the year and focus on the positives year round.