Busy people often fall into autopilot as they move from one problem to the next. Leaders can lose sight of the importance of acknowledging the efforts of others—especially when things aren’t going well. It’s hard to make the time or effort to express thanks.
But there are small ways you can take back control of your life and be purposeful with gratitude. One way we’ve done this at Atomic is to add an agenda item to our Level 10 Meetings focused on gratitude. I believe this small thing has had a significant impact.
Psychological science shows many ways that expressing gratitude is good. For example, it improves your physical and mental health. It helps you sleep better (which is very important for performance). It can strengthen your relationships. It even improves your mental strength, giving you that much need resilience.
Atomic is a big believer in the importance of gratitude, and we’re always looking for new ways to show it. For example:
- Creating an Employee Recognition Program Fit for Atomic
- What a Stuffed Elephant Taught Us about Acknowledgement
- Recognizing Great Work — Small Moments with Big Impact
- Thirty Days of Gratitude – An Experiment
We also measure its impact using the Gallup’s Q12 Engagement Survey tool. Our efforts with gratitude help us to rank in the top 2% world wide.
Doing Meetings Right
About two years ago, Atomic started to make the transition to using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) outlined in Geno Wickman’s book Traction. We began to have weekly huddle meetings every Friday, following the Level 10 model. Those first few months were bumpy as we learned to follow the agenda format.
Eventually, we found our rhythm and realized we all looked forward to that Friday time together sharing the pain, solving hard problems, and growing together as leaders. EOS is not for every company, but it has been working for ours.
Mixing in Gratitude
About a year ago, we realized we had the opportunity to do something different with gratitude. We added an agenda item to our Friday meeting: “Attitude of Gratitude.” During this time, we take five minutes to thank members of the Atomic team.
Each attendee gets an Atomic card and an envelope. They pick one Atom and write them a personal thank you note. The only rule is that they cannot write a note to someone attending the meeting with them. We record every Atom who is receiving a note and who wrote it, which helps us spread gratitude as far and wide as we can.
We are almost a year into doing this simple, small thing in our meeting, and I believe it’s had a positive impact on our teams. It always feels good as a leader to give a handwritten note to another person, and those receiving them have expressed their appreciation. This practice has also been incorporated into other meetings at Atomic.
If this is something you’re interested in doing, I would recommend you read Elaine Ezekiel’s post on Reviving the Handwritten Thank-you Note. She provides a great template for how to craft a good thank you note. The most important part of a good Thank You is to make sure you make it about them and not you.
In a software consultancy, we use our minds every day to solve complex problems. To maximize the performance of those doing this hard mental work, we need a place where people feel happy and appreciated. Gratitude is a big part of this.
Choose to be grateful. It will make you happier.