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Cultivating a culture of gratitude in your organization

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Swiss Philosopher Henry F. Amiel

Culture and organizational success

There have been a few articles and books recently that have highlighted the importance of culture in an organization.  In the article Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch,  Shawn Parr states that “Culture is the environment in which your strategy and your brand thrives or dies a slow death.”

Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh has garnered a significant amount of  attention for his brand, because of its success but also because of  the unique culture at Zappos.  The culture at Zappos revolves around the vision of delivering happiness, or delivering WOW as a path to profits, passion and purpose.  There is a set of Zappos Core Values that the leaders had the employees help create to practically explain the what, the why and the how of the culture of Zappos for new employees, for current employees, for customers and for any other interested parties.

Culture and strategy alignment

The use of the word “a path” in the title of Hseih’s book Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion and purpose, is a conscious choice by Hsieh because he doesn’t believe that the Zappos culture is the path to success for all companies.  For example another company just can’t cut and paste the Zappos core values and culture onto their organization to create success but rather it is more important that the company recognize and build a culture that aligns with its own unique strategies from the ground up.  Your organization has a culture – whether you recognize it or not.  Pasting a set of external core values onto that culture will not work.  Chasing a strategy that is at odds with the culture will also fail.  The culture can be reinforced and recognized by the leaders of the organization, but the people of the organization must embody that culture.

Cookie cutter culture

Organizations are unique with unique goals, products and groups of people.  It makes sense that organizations should not have cookie cutter cultures, but are there any cultural values that would benefit all organizations?

An attitude of gratitude

As we have just celebrated the Canadian Thanksgiving – and as a Canadian HR manager, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that all organizations would benefit from a culture of thankfulness.

  1. Leaders & organizations that are thankful for their employees and their customers.
  2. Employees who are thankful for and express gratitude to their co-workers and to the organization
  3. Employees who are thankful for and express gratitude to their customers.

A culture of thankfulness supports the development of others, strengthens teams, communicates appreciation and kindness, fosters employee engagement and achievement and is open to trying new things.

Create thankfulness

Your organization may or may not have a culture of thankfulness, but thankfulness expressed as gratitude in tangible acts has a way of spreading throughout organizations.   You may become the catalyst for cultural change  in your organization if you can consistently embody thankfulness.

Are you thankful for your work, your co-workers, your boss, your employees or your clients?   Have you expressed it today?

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Marcia Scheffler

Human Resources Generalist at Wawel Villa
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate is a Human Resources Generalist with M.A. working full-time as a Senior HR Officer. She is interested in the intersection of human resources theory and current best practices in HR. Read more
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