Recently a corporate client of mine mentioned to me that she was having a really challenging time with her team feeling angry and resentful. She and her team had both been working very hard over this past winter. Being the exceptional client that she is, Mary-Anne, practices her leveraging skills in her work on a daily basis.
“Nothing seems to be working,” she lamented
“They’re just miserable and I feel really badly about this because they’re such a great group of people. They work hard but no matter how much I verbally appreciate them they don’t hear me.”
After much discussion I asked her if her team were actually appreciating themselves. “Are they recognizing, acknowledging and celebrating their daily success’?” Stumbling and stammering Mary-Anne finally came to the conclusion that they actually were not.
“They’re too busy to see the forest through the trees most days.” Which in essence, I pointed out, means that they are not looking at everything they had accomplished.
They were focusing solely on the negative and were not giving themselves or others on their team the appreciation or gratitude they required. You can say this all very “touchy feely” but the reality is as human beings we all want to be acknowledged for a job well done. We all want to be “seen”. Having this kind of appreciation helps to shift the group’s focus to things that are more positive and away from it’s feeling of anger.
Please don’t ever underestimate the power of gratitude. It a sure fired way to move people from the fog of doubt and despair to being hopeful and positive again.
But how do you shift the energy and focus of a group of anxiety ridden corporate types???? They are not unlike an angry mob mentality if you’ve ever seen them. Some times it’s just not a pretty situation. I conveyed to Mary-Anne a story from my corporate days and shared the exercise I used myself.
With great excitement I pitched it to my team. Much to my dismay, I was nearly egged on the spot. “I already have too much to do!” said one. “I don’t need another thing that will make me feel badly about what I do here!” quipped another. Other notable reactions ranged from: “you’ve gotta be kidding me?” There were many sets of eyes rolling and deep huffs exhaled.
Determined not to be discouraged I smiled at all of them and very sweetly said “I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see how excited you all are about acknowledging not only your success but the success of your fellow team mates. I can see how excited you are! It warms my heart! I’ll see you at 5:30pm today to kick this process off.” (Yes, sarcasm works wonders especially when you use it to completely ignore negativity! Ha!) The tension was thick for the entire day as I witnessed the team, in less than veiled whispers, talk about this task with contempt.
Each team member was asked to:
a) List 5 successes from the day
b) Determine the reason why it was a success for them – personally or professionally
c) Then detail the next step they will take
By doing this they are focusing on the success and what needs to be done next rather than getting stuck in the mire. (PS this is not a to-do list!) This also allows the individual to see how they are really contributing to the process. Often times people feel no matter what they do it’s not really contributing to anything other than busy work.
The first day was tough, the next day a little easier but then finally they all got into the process. All of sudden they were realizing just how astounding they were. They saw they were empowered and appreciated by me, the vice president, as well as other teams within the organization. The everyday tasks that seemed so mundane started to take on more meaning for them as they could finally see where they sat in the big picture of things. Even the members of the team with the least experience started to realize their importance and meaning to the people around them. This shifted their focus to more positive things and they all began to feel more fulfilled and happy.
The exercise ended after 30 days but the impact was pretty amazing. On the toughest days I’d hear them saying to each other “ok, don’t get discouraged, tell me about a success you had today.” Or talking to themselves they say: “What was my success today?” It’s subtle and gentle but it is something that helped to shift the workload anxiety to a higher, more productive and lighter place.
The “not-so-angry mob” continued on their way using the tools they resisted so fiercely. They learned that sometimes it takes a little longer than expected for the big picture to come into focus. Yet, along the way, they began to mark every small step as a progression to greater success.
Appreciate yourself and the people around you! Don’t underestimate how powerful the right mindset can be! It’s pure fuel for an end result. Create what you really want!