How to Cultivate Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride on Your Team

How to Cultivate Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride on Your Team

As a leader, what traits should you cultivate in your employees? Grit – the ability to persevere in the face of challenges? Sure. A willingness to accept some sacrifices and work hard toward a successful future are essential for the members of any team. But I believe there’s another component that matters just as much: grace. I don’t mean the ability to move elegantly or anything religious. Rather, I mean qualities of decency, respect, and generosity, all of which mark a person as someone with whom others want to cooperate.

Consider the results of Google’s Project Oxygen, a multiyear research initiative designed to identify the manager qualities that enhanced a team’s success. What they found is that yes, driving a team to be productive and results-oriented mattered, but so did being even-keeled, making times for one-on-one meetings, working with a team in the trenches to solve problems, and taking an interest in employees’ social lives. In fact, these “character” qualities outranked sheer drive and technical expertise when it came to predicting success.

This makes sense. Innovation typically requires team effort. Expertise has to be combined to solve problems, necessitating cooperation. And cooperation requires a willingness to share credit and support one another as opposed to always striving to take credit for oneself.

So as a manager, what’s the best way to instill grit and grace in your team? My research shows that it’s about cultivating three specific emotions: gratitude, compassion, and pride.

These three emotions not only increase patience and perseverance, but also build social bonds. For most of human evolutionary history, the ability to succeed rested almost entirely on the ability to form relationships. People needed to be honest, fair, and diligent — qualities that required a willingness to inhibit selfish desires to profit at the expense of others. And it was moral emotions like gratitude, compassion, and an authentic pride that motivated these actions. For example, research has shown that when people feel grateful, they’re willing to devote more effort to help others, to be loyal even at a cost to themselves, and to split profits equally with partners rather than take more money for themselves. When they feel compassion, they’re willing to devote time, effort, and money to aid others. And when they feel proud – an authentic pride based on their abilities as opposed to a hubristic one – they’ll work harder to help colleagues solve problems. And all of these behaviors draw others to us. People who express gratitude, compassion, and pride are viewed positively by those around them.

These emotions also build grit. They increase the value people place on future goals relative to present ones, and thereby pave the way to perseverance. Work from my lab, for example, shows that people induced to feel grateful show double the patience when it comes to financial rewards. They’re twice as willing to forgo an immediate smaller profit so that they can invest it for a longer-term gain. In a similar vein, people made to feel prideor compassionare willing to persevere more than 30% longer on challenging tasks compared to those feeling other positive emotions, such as happiness, precisely because pride and compassion induce them to place greater value on future reward

Unlike using willpower to keep your nose to the grindstone, using these emotions also helps solve an increasingly common problem of professional life: loneliness. Today, loneliness has become an epidemicin the U.S., with 53% of American workers regularly reporting feeling isolated in their public lives—an immense problem given the toll loneliness takeson the both physical and mental health. Regularly feeling gratitude, compassion, and pride—because these emotions automatically make people behave in more communal and supportive ways—builds social connections. For example, people assigned to engage in simple interventions to feel and express gratitude show enhanced feelings of social connectionand relationship satisfactionover time.

Because of the connection between these emotions and grit and social connection, managers who cultivate gratitude, compassion, and pride in their team will see increased productivity and wellbeing of their workers. As one example, Adam Grant and Francesca Gino examined perseverance in an environment that is rife with more rejection than almost any other: fundraising. Over a two-week period, they recorded the number of calls fundraisers made in an effort to solicit donations for a university. Between the first and second week, however, half of the fundraisers received a visit from the university’s director of annual giving, during which she expressed her appreciation for their work. To get a sense of how this expression of gratitude affected the fundraisers, Gino and Grant had them report how valued and appreciated they felt by their superiors.

Whereas the average performance of both groups had been virtually the same during the first week of the study, those who had heard the grateful message upped their fundraising efforts by 50% during the second week. What’s particularly interesting here is the way the benefits of gratitude and pride can feed off one another. In another study on fundraisers, Grant and Amy Wrzesniewski found that the gratitude managers expressed toward their employees stoked the employees’ pride, which in turn, bolstered their efforts.

Compassion, too, builds dedication. Surveying over 200 people working in different units within a large long-term care facility, Sigal Barsade and Mandy O’Neil found that those who worked in units characterized by higher feelings of social attachment, trust, acceptance, and support—a composite that could easily be called empathy and compassion—not only showed superior performance and engagement, but also increased work satisfaction, less exhaustion, and lower absenteeism.

Gratitude, compassion, and pride make us more willing to cooperate with and invest in others. But because they accomplish this feat by increasing the value the mind places on future gains, they also nudge us to invest in our own futures. In so doing, they make both teams, and the individuals who comprise them, more successful and resilient.

The Importance of Employee Engagement

The Importance of Employee Engagement

What some might argue is a never-ending cycle, understanding the importance of employee engagement still reigns true even in 2017. Increasing engagement should never go away and always be a priority for organizations seeking success. But with so much on the line, new generations entering the workforce and demands changing–what does it take for your organization to stay in the know with employee engagement?

According to a recent Human Resources Today article on engagement trends, the notion of unlimited soda and ping pong tables in the workforce has become a tired bonus for young employees.

We broke down this article into sections so feel free to click on a jump link below:

If you would’ve looked at any employee engagement report a half-decade ago, you might’ve considered investing in ping pong tables.

However, HR Today says younger employees desire better mentoring and collaboration opportunities. And more likely than not, your business is willing to provide these opportunities if you knew they’d work. This is why valuing employee engagement is as important to your organization as ever.

Employee Engagement Is More Than Happy Workers

The importance of employee engagement goes beyond happy workers and good benefits. Instead, you should practice this across all facets of your organization from top to bottom. Senior-level staff play just as critical of a role as your newest hire straight out of college.

In a study from Harvard Business Review, less than a quarter of businesses believe their employees are highly engaged within the organization. That number is even more astonishing when you realize a Gallup poll found the percentage of engaged employees was at 32% in 2015 and 31.5% in 2014.

The trend of low employee engagement has existed for years. The same Gallup poll noted the percentage of engaged employees has remained under 33% since they began tracking the metric 15 years ago.

This shouldn’t scare your organization away from attempting to increase engagement. In fact, it’s absolutely critical to know what an unenthusiastic and uninspired workforce can do for your organization.

The Negatives of an Unengaged Workforce

For years, HR professionals have understood the importance of employee engagement. When workers are engaged, productivity rises and daily performance increases across the board. Creating a great workplace culture can positively reflect on employee behavior while shaping the future of your overall organization.

However, if you don’t address the importance of employee engagement, you can fall to the negatives, which include:

  • Poor Decision Making: Unengaged employees tend to have poor outlooks on the company. In a nutshell, this immediately affects decision making processes. While not everyone loves making decisions, an unmotivated environment drives little participation.
  • No Focus or Drive: Participation is key to employee engagement and when people are comfortable, they’re more likely to produce out-of-the-box ideas. Positive motivation helps people focus as their care for the organization grows.
  • Extra Training: Organizations with lackluster employee engagement strategies often spend more time on training. Unmotivated employees need more time to digest things they don’t care about. If there’s no insight into the end goal of your business, workers will cut corners, costing you money.
  • Over Hiring: Just as poor engagement increases training time, it also makes businesses over hire. Motivated, free-thinking and engaged employees are willing to work outside of silos and help the team as a whole. This creates less need for bigger staffs in segmented departments.
  • ROI of Employees Decreases: Unmotivated and hesitant employees don’t provide you with moon-shot ideas or have the desire to show you what they can do and what their work is worth. This means over hiring, additional training and higher salary spend to get workers into your stale work environment.

Breaking Your Common Employee Engagement Myths

Before we dive too deep into how to improve your employee engagement, let’s go over a few myths first. Employee engagement myths are as common as celebrity gossip. Rumors about whether engagement can be earned through trust or a higher paycheck are all too common.

However, we’re here to debunk a few common myths you might come across:

1. Higher Pay Means More Loyal Employees

A common myth is higher pay always equals more engaged employees, but this is simply not true. Even the most loyal employees are willing to listen to other offers from other companies if the job provides more personalized benefits to the worker.

In fact, an Adobe 2016 report found 47% of US workers would leave their current position for a more ideal job that pays less. Just because you pay your workers more doesn’t mean they’re more loyal or engaged.

Your organization must find the appropriate middle ground of paying workers for a job well done or extra effort tasks. This means instead of offering higher wages simply to attract employees, find out the benefits your employees would want besides salary.

2. Your Organization Can’t Reach Everyone

Sadly you’re never going to be able to make every employee happy. No matter how well you roll out your benefits, company perks and opportunities to grow, there’s always going to be room to improve.

In today’s job market, people are constantly changing their future end goal. Research from a Cornerstone study discovered 42% of employees plan to see up to three careers in their worklife. That means there will be new industries, trades and markets to learn and grow in.

Don’t hold on to employees for dear life because careers can change. It’s better to focus on making your organization stand out in the industry for being helpful to those who stay three months or three years.

3. Hands-on Management Hurts Engagement

Hiring managers and team leaders are often in a battle on whether or not to be overly hands on. Many people believe hands-on management actually prevents workers from being fully engaged and happy. However, this is just not true.

Certain hands-on management can help employee performance by constantly providing an avenue to succeed. For those who prefer siloed and independent management tactics, you run the risk of isolating and ignoring your employees.

While some people might say they prefer to work solo, management needs to know what will help keep workers connected so their top concerns don’t go ignored.

How Your Business Can Better Engage Employees

Improving employee engagement can seem tedious or even impossible to some businesses. But every organization should know that investing in growth and reducing unnecessary expenditure improves overall business.

Far too often, companies cautiously step around ways to further engage, which stunts a consistent growth pattern. Instead, follow these tips to improve employee engagement within your organization:

Focus on Growth & Employee Recognition

Employee engagement has to start on day one for it to be effective down the road. Growth is one of the most essential aspects to businesses and starting early will only help. In fact, a Harvard Business Review reportsurveyed businesses on their biggest focuses for the organization currently compared to three years prior.

harvard business review graph on growth

Data showed that investing in growth had the highest uptick from the previous three years from 16% to 24% of organizations saying it’s their primary goal. Effectively focusing on growth means businesses must work from the top down.

HBR graph on executive engagement

This means your executives down to the entry-level positions must be on the same page. The same Harvard Business Review report found executive-level employees were 11% more engaged than senior-level management and 14% higher than everyone else in the company.

It should come to no surprise that executive staffs are more engaged, but the silver lining is employee recognition. Organizations have to successfully communicate and promote employee recognition within the workforce.

Whether it’s recognition for a completed project or taking initiative on a new one, positive reinforcement across the company is critical.

Transparency & Visibility

Begin from the top. Transparency within the organization is a major benefactor for employees. As you can imagine, trust plays an important role between management and staff. A SHRM 2015 Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey discovered 64% of employees ranked trust between management as a necessity between workers.

shrm trust in managers graph

The survey also found 75% of employees believe their importance to the organization is the main source of their dedication to the company. This should be a siren for management to invest in company visibility, whether it’s newsletters, social media or frequent organizational updates.

Maintaining visibility within the organization and explaining the importance of your staff (in detail) helps improve employee engagement.

Hold Managers Accountable for Engagement

Your managers are in the trenches every day with your employees. While engagement efforts have to be parallel across the organization, you need to rely on your managers to keep employees happy.

Employees feel comfortable and have a better road for success when they trust the leaders of the organization and their senior leadership. Again, trust in management is one of the most essential aspects to respecting and providing career path outlooks for your employees.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, employees are 67% more engaged when cooperative management is in place. If you hold your managers accountable for engagement, they’ll have a better pulse and oversight on the staff.

Describe Success Without the Jargon

Like we mentioned before, clear goals are necessary to see true employee engagement. However, your goals shouldn’t just be related to yearly success. Instead, make goals based on day-to-day experiences.

This will build commitment within your staff to shine and prosper each day. When employees know that all the little things throughout the day can make a difference (and more importantly, will be noticed), the commitment level rises.

Also, try to leave out the complicated jargon of your employee goals. The clearer your goals and expectations, the more likely they’ll be done. Don’t give your employees an excuse to miss deadlines or more errors. Easy-to-understand actions and goals will help promote success.

Provide Effective Employee Engagement Tools

Business leaders have to invest in the right employee advocacy tools and training methods. This helps reduce turnover, save money on training and keep the company engaged. With employee engagement tools like Bambu, you can easily update employees on critical things like:

  • Company objectives/missions
  • Employee guidelines
  • Corporate documents
  • Job openings
  • Benefits updates
  • Wages information