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Gratitude Helps Us Be a Team Again

Nov. 15, 2021
As Thanksgiving approaches and another distanced year wraps up, it’s time to reconnect with the people that make our organization a success.

As the leaves begin to change, the season prompts me to reflect on the year almost gone by. All those plans we planted in the spring took root in the summer, and as the year comes to a close, we are harvesting the fruits of our labor in preparation for winter.

In business, it may not come naturally for us to be intentional and grateful. There is always a rush to push more through the system or solve a problem. In our hurry, we may forget to appreciate the people creating the organization’s success. When is the last time you acknowledged the contributions of your coworkers?

During a leadership training event, the Onex team was encouraged to write words of gratitude to each other and place it in a gratitude bag. Thinking about each person’s unique contribution to the whole was insightful, calling out all the attributes that make them special. Receiving the compliments in your bag of gratitude was a gift that left you feeling loved and appreciated. The whole exercise took less than 10 minutes, but the experience has remained memorable for months.

When I began my role at Onex in 2013, every business unit and department was siloed intentionally by the previous manager. I spent the next seven years working to build a team that appreciated and respected one another. In 2020, we were all working towards a common goal of continuously improving and making things better.

Then, in March of 2020, our team became siloed again. This time it was not by our own choosing but because of COVID-19. In order to reduce our potential exposure to the virus, we began staying in our own departments. Gone were the days of lunch together in the conference room or all-hands meetings where we stood side by side.

Today, the number one request I get is to restore the appreciation, gratitude and teamwork. We will have to be very intentional in our work to make this happen. Beginning this week, we are going to have lunch together as a full team again. In addition to lunch, our holiday activity will be one that allows us the opportunity to learn something about our co-workers that we may not know. By playing Secret Santa throughout the holiday season, we will try to delight our co-workers with gifts they will enjoy. The gift need not be expensive, but one that is thoughtful and kind.

Transitions, change, growth and progress are hard for individuals and organizations alike. We need to meet each individual where they are on their journey. Gratitude will inspire others to keep up the good work, empowering them to go the extra mile.

By restoring the respect and kindness in our organization, we will be better humans to the outside world as well. Our customers will feel the appreciation we have for our fellow teammates. Our community will experience our gestures of kindness and support.

As you prepare for Thanksgiving, take the time to think about all the people who made this day possible. Be grateful for the farmers and the truck drivers delivering your turkey and vegetables to the grocery store. Don’t forget the manufacturers who produced the stove you cook on or the serving ware. After the day is done, say thanks for everyone who took a part in creating a memory your family will hold dear for years to come.

Ashleigh Walters is president of Onex and author of Leading with Grit and Grace.

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