During a staff meeting one day, one of my employees passed out paper bags – the kind you packed your lunch in as a child. She sat a big box in the middle of the table and lifted the lid. Inside, it was filled with magic markers, crayons, and colored pencils. She instructed us to decorate our own personal bag in such a way that would make us smile. Everyone jumped in and began the impromptu art project.
Next, she passed out strips of paper and asked each of us to write something we liked or appreciated about every staff member around the table, then fold it up, and drop it in our colleagues’ bags. In the coming weeks, she suggested that we keep the bags on our desks and continue writing these simple acknowledgment notes for one another. Then, whenever we need a “pick me up,” reach in, grab a handful of notes, and read them to ourselves.
I’m no longer with that organization, but the bag still sits on the desk in my office. Powerful, isn’t it?
I’m thinking about this in particular today as we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. How often do we pause to say thank you and other nice things about those with whom we work? The formal feedback, like annual performance reviews, gets done, but what about the smaller things? Isn’t it really these simple things that make the biggest difference? It’s what defines a workplace’s culture – mojo I call it. And it’s a key part of building team commitment, loyalty, and satisfaction.
In all workplaces, but perhaps even more important in the nonprofit sector, we need to identify the simple, yet powerful actions and benefits that help us recruit and retain our people. After all, it’s our single greatest resource.
Even if you don’t undertake a “project” like this in your workplace, take time today to thank and acknowledge those around you. Maybe even try it with your family over Thanksgiving. Cheers to a wonderful holiday!