Grateful, not hateful

by Michael Papay

Let’s be honest, 2016 has been a heavy year. For starters,  we’ve lost several admired cultural icons (David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and Sharon Jones, to name just a few).   And then we experienced what is widely regarded as one of the most contentious and divisive elections in history. 

No matter what political side you found yourself on, you would have to agree that the negativity has seeped into even our most sacred spaces and it’s taken an emotional toll on most Americans.   

Take a look at social media networks, which have morphed from a safe place to exchange experiences and pleasantries to a cesspool of anger and vitriol, to see that relationships have been strained. Turn on any news channel and you can practically feel the toxicity pour into your living room. Attend a local debate or any kind of gathering to see just how fractured our communities have become.  

We now find ourselves entering into a holiday season designed to help us reflect, recharge, and celebrate a new beginning. As we kick things off this week with Thanksgiving --my favorite holiday, because it revolves around the Granddaddy of all meals, and more importantly, offers a time when we can reconnect with loved ones and express our gratitude for our family, friendships, health, and freedom. Next, come the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, which offer us the opportunity to reconnect spiritually and experience the magic of giving.  Finally, we end our holiday season with New Year’s Day, a time when we can reset our dreams and create goals designed to take us to new and exciting places.

Countdown: We have the next 45 days to let gratitude, giving, and goals guide us back to feeling like human beings again. This is a noble opportunity.  Let’s not waste it. We can use this focus at home and at work.

My company, Waggl, offers a solution designed to help organizations pulse questions and create two-way dialogue with their employees.  We are fortunate to have the opportunity each and every day to learn from our customers who understand the importance of valuing their employees as their most important stakeholders and are actively and transparently managing their organizations to create amazing workplaces.

Think of a work experience that made you feel grateful

Waggl utilizes short questions (“pulses”) that you send out to employees. The questions are measurement-related, tied to a new product launch, or some specific strategic initiative. But last week, one of our clients offered a simple and actionable question to help set a positive and impactful tone:

"Think of a time when you experienced an interaction with a colleague or client that made you feel grateful to be part of the <company name> family.  Please share your story."

This Waggl pulse was received like water in the desert. At that particular company, it resulted in one of their highest response rates ever. We have since shared this Waggl question with all of our customers and the results have been uplifting. The opportunity for employees to share and vote on one another’s stories has helped people realize that within all of our companies and communities, incredible acts of kindness and decency are happening each and every day.

Too often ‘good news’ goes uncelebrated. We’re busy closing out fiscal years. We’re running from meeting to meeting. Who has time to find the silver lining, when we feel like we’re always under the cloud? Waggl helps unearth insights on a variety of topics…even ‘good news’.
When we get caught up in measuring things through polls and surveys, we forget that there are people behind those numbers. People with incredible insights to share and stories that can resonate with us in many meaningful ways.  Clear narratives cut through the distraction that is everywhere in our daily lives. When they are lead with techniques like Appreciative Inquiry, which focus the discussion around celebrating the positive vs. wallowing in the negative, people can become re-inspired. 

Carry it forward

Learning from this, we can spend the next 45 days rebuilding together by listening and celebrating all the positive things we are achieving. 

We are blessed to live in a country that is built on centuries of sacrifice and grit.  Our economy thrives as a result of its incredible diversity.  Throughout most of business history, the best companies and ideas have come from those with opposing viewpoints.  

This year, instead of hitting your employees with another 60 questions survey that will take months to process, ask one question that will have immediate, meaningful impact. It won’t solve all of the world’s problems, but it’s a wonderful place to start.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Happy Holidays and Thank You.