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Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton - presentation Banner Image - 2000x1000

Engaging employees: Leading with Gratitude by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

New book says gratitude is the lowest cost employee engagement tool for leaders

Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton - presentation Banner Image - 2000x1000

In times of scarcity, what’s one resource you have infinite amounts of?

It’s gratitude.

As one employer told the authors of Leading with Gratitude, gratitude never runs out, costs nothing and has a major impact.

In their interview with us today Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick said showing you're grateful has an outsized impact on engaging employees. 

A great example of gratitude in a crisis

We're in challenging times right now.

But back when the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008 WD-40 Company chief executive Garry Ridge chose:

·       Not to lay off a single person nor take away any of their benefits.

·       To increase investment in employee learning and development.

Two years later the company was celebrating:

·       Its best financial result in its 57-year history.

·       Employee engagement scores at 99% (of employees saying they loved to work there).

Yet, Elton and Gostick say bosses like Ridge are rare.

The great mystery of bosses who don't show appreciation

"Gratitude creates feelings of belonging. You and I have left an organisation, even a relationship, because we didn’t feel like we belonged.” - Garry Ridge, CEO WD-40 Company

Gostick and Elton’s survey of more than 1 million people shows that there is a “staggering gratitude deficit in the work world.”

·       In fact, people are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else.

·       It can be the number one reason people leave organisations.

·       81% of working adults say they’d work harder if bosses were more grateful for their work (vs. 37% who are motivated by fear).

·       Around 95% of employees say a boss who expresses gratitude is more likely to succeed.

Yup, it's a no brainer.

Don't be stupid, just notice me please

Gostick and Elton say a lack of gratitude is a form of stupidity.

Their research finds:

·       It's an enormously powerful tool for inspiring and understanding people.

·       Bosses who lead with gratitude achieve up to 2x greater profitability than their peers.

·       Bosses who lead with gratitude get higher customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

·       People in their twenties rate gratitude at work 3x higher than those in their 60s.

·       Gratitude is not only good for your people and your business – it’s good for your health.

A lesson on how to express gratitude

·       It must be genuine and specific.

·       It must show a sincere interest in understanding the challenges they face.

Why some people won’t "do" gratitude

In our interview, Gostick and Elton say leaders have cited their own stress as a reason they’re not mindful of others' feelings.

But gratitude is a basic tenet of what makes society work. We reciprocate if someone helps us. 

7 Myths That Hold Back Leaders from Showing Gratitude

Myth: Fear is the big motivator

·       It's not. In a fear-based culture, employees spend time and energy looking out for themselves. Are you managing with fear by mistake?

Myth: People want too much praise these days

·       They don't. Rather than being needy, those who seek praise often have high self-esteem.

·       Millennials and Gen Z feel more loyal when appreciated, challenged and rewarded.

Myth: There’s just no time

·       Gratitude must be seen as a multiplier - not a productivity suck.

·       Gratitude offers the greatest effect for the time dedicated.

Myth: I’m not wired to feel it

·       You can get the hang of it. It may feel strange at first and forced.

Myth: I save my praise for those who deserve it

·       Everyone on a team should get a chance to receive gratitude at some point.

·       You never know who’s going to be your next superstar.

Myth: It’s all about the Benjamins (financial rewards)

·       Only 10% of people overall have money in their list of Top 7 motivators (out of 23 choices).

·       Most motivating was knowing that their bosses appreciated their effort.

·       Gratitude has the most lasting effect on motivation.

Myth: They’ll think I’m bogus

·       People appreciate being appreciated. The tenor and energy level of a team can be transformed remarkably quickly.

·       Jim Collins found the strongest managers displayed personal humility (and indomitable will).

8 most effective gratitude practices:

1.     Seeing. Solicit ideas and consider them thoughtfully.

2.     Assume positive intent. Reframe mistakes as learning moments.

3.     Walk in their shoes. Empathy is a critical driver of performance for managers.

4.     Look for small wins. It motivates people to move onto the next win.

5.     Expressing. Like ripe bananas, gratitude does not keep. Don’t stockpile praise. Surveys show the most engaged teams get acknowledged once every 7 days (Gallup).

6.     Tailor to the individual. There are 23 workplace motivators. Chester’s top 3 are friendship, fun and teamwork. Adrian’s top 3 are creativity, family and autonomy.

7.     Reinforce core values. Actions speak louder than words. Show you appreciate employees who enact your values.

8.     Make it peer to peer. Have a little fun with your team. Peers have the biggest influence on employee engagement levels.

Take gratitude home.

·       Keep a gratitude journal. People are 25% happier and more energetic if they keep gratitude journals.

·       Give immediate positive feedback to loved ones.

One of Brené Brown's best quotes says, “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.”

Gostick and Elton told us managers have more influence over the engagement, happiness and creative output of employees than they may realise.

Can you ever give too much praise? The authors of Leading with Gratitude say they’ve never once heard that complaint.

"Who ever goes home and says there was too much cake, too many balloons, too much praise at work?" laughs Chester Elton.

So, show your gratitude to your team. As Gostick and Elton challenge us at the end of the book:

·       Start small, start today.


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