Far too many of us have worked for a company or a boss that has failed to truly appreciate or value us. It’s a terrible feeling and often leads to anger, frustration and resentment. It also often signals the beginning of the end for most employees.
In my new book The Currency of Gratitude, I share my own personal experience of feeling unappreciated and undervalued and how gratitude changed the course of my life and my business forever.
In my early twenties, I landed my first job after college as a sales representative for a then small advertising firm. There were six of us on the sales team, and our compensation package consisted of a base salary with a generous bonus structure. Our bonuses were set to reward sales increases and reached all the way up to 10 percent should we hit some pretty remarkable sales numbers.
I hit the big numbers in my very first year on the job, and that’s when my boss started changing the rules of the game. For the four years I was with the firm, the benchmark for my bonus was a moving target, changing each year after I achieved my goal. It was clear that I was never going to be paid as much as I was capable of earning with this company. I reached the point of frustration that led me to turn in my two weeks’ notice.
From this experience, I learned that employers need to recognize the importance of showing employees that they are valued for their contribution. A complete lack of appreciation for my work, monetary and otherwise, ultimately drove me to quit in search of a job where I would be valued.
This lesson has stuck with me and has been reinforced over and over by stories I’ve heard from others who worked in fine-enough business cultures but were not happy with or motivated by their jobs.
What I quickly learned was that many businesses claim to have a great business culture but are actually failing to truly acknowledge the lived experience of their employees and clients. The end result is there’s often a gap between a company’s mission and values statement and the reality of those on the front lines.
Recognizing this discrepancy, at the age of thirty, I struck out on my own determined to build the kind of company that I wanted to work for—one that would truly value its employees.
Within a few short months, I launched Blazing. For me, building Blazing amounted to taking my personal brand—the relationship building for which I was already recognized—and making it the center of my business’s culture. And, with a foundation of gratitude, my new business took flight as I was able to build genuine relationships with my clients who appreciated that I was honest, transparent, and willing to share my vulnerabilities.
Because I put gratitude at the heart of all my interactions, I soon realized just how impactful it was in building and nurturing relationships with clients, suppliers, and my internal team. Through displays of appreciation, the generous gifting of time, open collaboration and encouragement of passion and effort I built a business culture highly conducive to the achievement of not only our client’s business goals, but the business and personal goals of my team.
Never take a relationship for granted no matter how insignificant it may seem. Gratitude is as much a practice as it is a fleeting feeling or even an overall attitude. As a practice, gratitude needs to be sustained by daily habits and exercises. We can’t just expect to behave gratefully every time we interact with others; it’s something that needs to be worked at. It’s the “working at it” piece that, through my experience, I can share with you in this book.
I’m a strong advocate for the power of personal reflection as a tool to drive results. At the end of each chapter in The Currency of Gratitude, I encourage readers to pause and reflect on practical questions designed to help develop a gratitude practice, and to think about how implementing a practice of gratitude as a model for all interactions might improve relationships while also driving business growth.
By making gratitude the center of your personal brand and company’s mission, I promise you that you will see a return on investment with longer employee retention, productivity increases and long-lasting and fruitful relationships with your clients.