Every Thanksgiving my family and I write down why we are thankful for each person at the dinner table and tuck it under each person’s plate. Then prior to digging in, each person reads the notes they received at the table aloud. My daughter used to be most thankful that we played Candy Land with her, and now it’s that we can have snuggle time while watching Harry Potter. For my husband and I, we used to be most thankful for experiencing new places together, but that may take a backseat to sleep. What's yours?
What if we played out that little activity at work? What if every employee is assigned a seat at a table (given a manageable number of people), all jot down why they are most thankful for each person seated along with them, and everyone reads aloud the notes they received? What could this do for your organization? I bet that most of us aren’t quite sure why others are thankful for what we contribute in the workplace. I once thanked an employee for his commitment to the team and his focus on his projects, as I could consistently count on him to deliver - which brought me great piece of mind. His response? He looked at me like I was crazy. He was genuinely perplexed, saying he was just simply doing his job. I then took the time to explain to him how his approach is greatly valued, that people come to him because they know he’ll get something done on time, really well, and with a smile on his face, and that just isn’t the case with every employee.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: I think we all too often assume people – whether employees or family – know what they do to make our lives easier and situations better. I think we all too often believe that others know how kind they are, what great leaders they are, what great work they do, and how talented they are. This Thanksgiving, let’s assume nothing. Let’s believe that no one really knows how they help make you happy, or how they help you be a better person. Let’s tell them, whether they’re at your Thanksgiving Day table or not.
Just 15 minutes. How about we all take 15 minutes this week to reach out to five people you work with, five friends, and five family members who won’t be at your Thanksgiving Day table, and let them know why you are thankful for them. I bet you will get a big thank you.