It can be harder than usual to find things to thank for this Thanksgiving season because of all the hardships in the world, in the community, and even in your own business.
Still, it’s important for small business owners to try and help their employees be grateful for what they have.
We’ve been in this pandemic for nine months, and whether your employees are back at their desks, still working from home, or waiting to be called back from leave, they’re wondering the same as you and everyone else. world: “How much longer?”
And while you may have done all you can to keep your business open, to keep your employees on the payroll, and to keep morale up, many of your employees may not be able to see past it. having difficulties, even though they are getting better now.
It is not unusual. In fact, the default position for most people is to focus on the negative, even long after the bad experience has been forgotten by others. This is called “negativity bias”. Negativity bias causes us to dwell on our mistakes such as the boss’s criticism of an otherwise stellar performance review or the bad news of the day.
We focus so much on the negative aspects of the past that there is no more room in our minds or hearts to recognize something good that might be happening right now. It’s the “once bitten, twice shy” phenomenon: once a dog bit me, so I will never trust another dog. Or I tried something new and it didn’t go well, so I’m never gonna try that again.
With so many problems in the world today, employees are overwhelmed with negative experiences and fears. Friends, colleagues and family members have been ill; some died. Jobs have been lost. The paychecks were unreliable. Bill are not paid.
Where’s the silver lining?
Frankly, the good things are everywhere: more free time to pursue hobbies or go back to school and more family dinners at home, to begin with. A business that has reopened after being closed all summer. Employees who are called back to work after a long absence.
Managers have a new job during this interim period of opening and closing: helping employees recognize and accept the positives that occur despite the negatives. And realizing that without the help of someone who is committed to embracing the positive, they won’t do it alone.
Here are seven gratitude strategies to help managers fit employees into the spirit of gratitude that November has always brought to us:
Look for silver liners.
Managers can turn the conversation from moody to joyful by constantly spilling bad news. If you need to cut wages by 10% across the board, say so in the good news – that means we won’t have to fire anyone. If your local government is reinstating outdoor-only restaurants or stores, have employees think about ways to serve customers outside and save the day.
Reframe the message. Adopt a “Yes, that’s a problem, and here’s a creative solution” mindset. Give employees incentives to come up with silver liners and solid gold ideas that will make your business run.
Eliminate bad news.
If you have good news and bad news to report on the same day, report them both at the same time, and start with evil.
Psychologists have found that when people get the good news first, the bad news is even worse in comparison. When the good news follows the bad, it changes the mood. It’s a pick-me-up, a happy ending, an improvement. Improvement is always a good thing.
Interestingly, when researchers conduct polls on this, news recipients always say they want evil first. But informants more often than not choose to offer the voucher first, believing it will soften the blow for what follows.
Focus on the positive.
If you have good news, let your employees know. Continue on this. Celebrate it. Make a big deal out of it. Go to the sea. Turn it into a virtual party.
When you deliver a negative message, do it quickly. Do not worry. State your business and move on. This way, employees will have the idea that the good news is more important than the bad news. The good news is more important. The good news is worth more of their time.
The point is, people tend to pay more attention to what’s wrong than what’s right. It is apparently a hereditary character which dates back to the cave dwellers. There was so much danger around them that some kind of negativity radar helped them survive.
Managers who realize this spend very little time in staff meetings dwelling on what went wrong and save their energy to pump up staff.
Learn from the negative.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Character cannot be developed in ease and calm. It is only through the experience of trials and suffering that one can… be successful.”
This pandemic has added an extra layer of negative on top of the burdens and concerns people carry. Losing a job, canceling a marriage, or grieving the loss of a pet would be disappointing, even when the world is healthier. But now these things can seem even more devastating.
Here’s how a manager can help a devastated employee deal with disappointment:
- Recognize that the deception is valid.
- Empathize with the employee’s feelings.
- Invite the employee to talk about the loss.
- Help the employee find ways to celebrate or grieve and get on with it.
Managers can also make it “safe” for employees to fail. They can welcome new ideas and experiences, without penalty. They can bring in other employees to help them figure out what went wrong, come up with a new plan, and try again. So failure is a way to progress.
Respond to bad news.
One of the reasons we dwell on negative news is because we believe it. And media researchers have found that once we believe something – even if it’s not true – we’ll go to great lengths to find more evidence that it is.
The more evidence we find to confirm the negative, the less we’ll believe someone or anything trying to convince us that it’s not true or that it’s not as bad as we think it is.
Smart managers therefore tackle bad news head-on. They are honest and transparent with their teams instead of trying to hide a negative situation. They recognize the problems faced by the company and inform employees as soon as they do so if these problems will have negative consequences for the staff and the company.
When employees are not informed, they can make their decisions and form an opinion based on rumors, assumptions, and whatever else they can find that confirms their worst fears. This can lead to low morale, resignations and lower productivity.
Don’t pretend that nothing negative exists. Your employees already know this.
Deal with politics.
The research firm Gartner found last year that 36% of employees said they avoided working with or talking to certain colleagues because of their political views.
And in a survey, the Society for Human Resources Management taken in the 2016 election between former Senator Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump, 1 in 4 employees said they were negatively affected by stress and arguments at work that reduced productivity as night of the week approached. elections.
In another study by Florida State University, more than a quarter of employees reported increased stress as a result of the policy, and a third of them admitted to being sick at times because of it.
In the heat of this prolonged post-election cycle, losing voters are likely to express their negative feelings in the form of anger, resentment and even disrespect. Managers cannot ignore these numbers. If offering a silver lining like “We can be thankful to live in a country that allows us to vote” doesn’t calm nerves, maybe a new company policy banning political discussions during working hours will. .
If employees find it difficult to let go of negative feelings that keep them from being grateful, managers have the opportunity to introduce new projects and activities that could help them achieve this.
One example is the manager who noticed, around eight months after the start of the pandemic, that his very small staff had grown impatient during meetings and had lost enthusiasm for the job.
Her fix: She asked a few of the most influential employees to pick a group to craft a plan to inject fun into the company’s social media pages. After the first meeting, rumor spread that the group was having fun with the project, and each employee asked to join.
The group decided to meet weekly and asked the director not to attend. Now, employees spend about half of every meeting talking like friends – without the manager listening – and half being super creative on behalf of the company.
This group even decided to organize a virtual Friendsgiving. And the first thing on the agenda: they will take turns revealing what they are most grateful for about their work.
Give the “thanks” in November.
In difficult times, the blessings we can count are not always evident. They are hidden under negativity, bad news, illness, sadness and bad luck.
Business owners can ignore this or indulge in it. Or they can remind their employees every day that hidden doesn’t mean gone. Things that are hard to find are not impossible to find.
Give your employees a boost. They might just be grateful if you do.