23.07 20120

An Attitude of Gratitude

I got to hear J. Loren Norris, a motivational speaker, present at the July Breakfast meeting for the Dallas PMI group.  Norris spoke about the exciting topic… “PDA.”  The group that I was with came up with a couple of interesting ideas about what this could mean.  Some people thought “PDA” meant “Public Displays of Affection.”   Others in the group were excited because they believed “PDA” referred to “Personal Digital Assistant.”  Actually, it was exciting because Norris was referring to “Public Displays of Appreciation.”  The appreciation concept is one that can truly change your life and the life of your organization.

According to Norris, lack of appreciation is the number one reason people leave their jobs.  It is costly to both the employee and the organization.  It leads to depression, conflict and undesirable drama in the work place.  Emotional stress in the work place leads to missed work hours and limited productivity.  Retraining and replacing staff is one of the biggest costs a company faces.

In order for an appreciation program to be effective in the context of a project, explicit expectations must be established regarding what is valued.  These expectations are best set by using the organizational vision statement as the basis for defining superior, customer-focused performance on project work.  The vision statement applies to all levels of an organization and is the overall guide to the purpose of an organization.

The project vision statement creation should involve the project team with guidance from a project leader.  High priority areas must be established for the project and are the foundation for creating a powerful vision statement. Priority areas are converted into effective phrases that motivate and encourage the team during execution of the project. The highest standards and rewards must be set for exceptional performance on these value-add areas that are identified.

According to Norris, appreciation only has meaning when it is sincere.  The giver must have authority to offer such praise.  The praise must be authentic and transparent, meaning that the person offering the praise acknowledges the better idea.  Lastly, the praise must actually encourage the person; it must be done in a way that is acceptable to the receiver.

As shared leadership models continue to evolve, there is more involvement and feedback from members of the team verses one-directional leadership feedback:  therefore, developing a shared appreciation tool where workers can commend each other for exceeding vision statement priorities is a great way to empower groups to develop the “attitude of gratitude.”  An online system where workers acknowledge each other for exceptional work is great for team morale and works for geographical dispersed teams as well.  An environment where team members encourage and praise each other creates a group of satisfied employees and increases retention of the organization’s most valuable asset—the people.  The biggest impact to your organization’s bottom line is the ability to appreciate others’ contributions.

People operate best with a mission or goal to achieve and with the knowledge that once they achieve that goal, their work will be appreciated… that it has meaning.  We work for a paycheck, but we also work to know that what we do matters to others and that we are interconnected and have meaning in the life of others.  The biggest reward we can receive is to know that the group with whom we spend the bulk of our waking hours recognizes our contributions.

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