Project Practitioners > What a culture of "pervasive thanks" looks like and why it matters

What a culture of "pervasive thanks" looks like and why it matters

By Cinda Voegtli

I recently started doing some work with a new (to me) company. It's a very large and complex place, with lots going on and lots to get up to speed on - with  naturally involved attending a bunch of meetings.  (I'm all for the fire-hose method.  Give me starter context, then let me dive in and begin absorbing.)

Merely two weeks in I had attended enough sessions to realize that I was witnessing something unique:   I had landed in a place with an established culture of regular and pervasive "thanking":

In every status meeting, people mention and thank those whose work contributed to the critical information and results being presented.

New communications pieces get shared out to everyone, with kudos back to the comms folks for how well they've represented the department. 

Meetings with the "big boss" include him voicing heartfelt thanks - to the group for pulling together on the org's goals, and thanks for standout individual efforts.

The department manager thanks people for deliverables  and for answers to her questions - even if she's in the middle of coaching better performance on some points.

In informal team meetings, individuals routinely thank a particular team member for their help on a recent or current task.

In the large-attendance formal quarterly review meeting, attendees thanked the organizer at the end for improvements made to streamline the meeting.


Note:  None of this thanking sounds contrived, political, or put-on for "making points."  The thanks I've heard have been expressed very naturally and very sincerely in the normal flow of the work. It's truly "in the culture" in a meaningful way.

And all of this is happening in a place that is crazy busy.  By no means is everyone's life perfect; it is not an easy, undemanding workplace!

I'm intrigued by what I'm seeing here, because I've experienced way more places where a heavy workload makes everything serious, nose-to-the-grindstone, and even outright dour.  The negative atmosphere can get self-reinforcing and then no one has any fun at all.  

In contrast, I am seeing that in this organization, the pervasive "giving of thanks" to other people really helps balance out the stress of all there is to do.  It all feels more humane.  Everyone does feel more appreciated for what they do. And you know what?  That just matters. This experience has made me realize just how much it does.

So my offering this Thanksgiving week is that we look for more opportunities to "give out some thanks" at work.  Take a look at the culture where you are.  Is it a "thank-ful" one?  Could you lead the way in helping it become one?  I'm newly aware that I can play a part in modeling the behaviors and helping to build such a culture consistently wherever I am, by speaking up with my own sincere thanks, and doing so regularly.   I intend to do so!

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

To my mind, thanking people for their contributions is a natural must, and it is great that you notice the difference when it "just happens", compared to when not.
It is easy to make a difference just by saying thank you!

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