A Gratitude Guide for 2014

The new year will bring its inevitable ups and downs, but you can ensure a happy start by saying thank you to the people who make such a difference to you and your company.

As we jump into another year, it's important to set aside time to consider the people who make a difference in our lives and in our businesses, to be grateful for the roles they play, and to let them know how much we value them. It only takes a minute (and often less) to express our gratitude, but the impact can be very powerful.

So, to kick the year off on a happy note (maybe even a handwritten one) make sure you acknowledge:

Your People

Always remember that it's your employees who either make or break your business, and your business can only be as good as they are. Be grateful to your people, and regularly take time out of your busy day to thank them for their good work. Follow the example of the CEO of Paragon Steakhouse, who keeps a stack of notecards on his desk to write personal notes of thanks to employees at the end of each workday.

Your Customers

Without customers, of course, you don't have a business. Sure, they can sometimes be demanding, unreasonable, and a pain to deal with, but if you want your business to grow and thrive, you need them (perhaps more than they need you). Be grateful for your customers, and be sure they know you care about them. The fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies given out by DoubleTree hotels to guests upon check-in (60,000 a day!) is just one way the company shows it cares about its customers.

Your Vendors

It's easy to forget to be grateful to the vendors and other business partners that provide you with the materials, supplies, and services that your business needs to operate. But they are a vital and long-term part of your ability to serve your own customers, and you should be grateful to have them on your team. One South Carolina furniture retailer holds an annual Vendor Appreciation Day, where representatives of the company’s more than 30 vendors are offered breakfast, lunch, and cocktails, hourly door prizes, and jars of company owner Dana McQueen’s popular homemade pepper jelly.

Your Colleagues

Your colleagues are the people you turn to when you’ve got questions about how things work, how best to navigate a particular company policy or procedure, how to make a connection with a member of their business or other networks, and much more. Ten team members at Burlington Massachusetts-based PR firm Davies Murphy Group were invited to attend a business meeting by a colleague, which turned out to be a complementary lunch at a local restaurant.

Your Mentors

Many of us have mentors at work: the people who helped show us the ropes as we became acclimated to a new organization or as we worked our way up the ladder. Thank your mentors with a personal thank-you note, or consider posting a tribute to your mentors on the Harvard Mentoring Project website during January, which just happens to be National Mentoring Month.

Your Community

Businesses naturally become an integral part of the communities in which they do business--they hire its people, contribute to the tax base, become points of local pride, and much more. Show gratitude to your community by regularly giving back in any way you can. Instead of writing checks, Angela Massaro-Fain, president of Grapevine Communications in Sarasota, Florida, offers free strategic marketing, PR, and design services to local nonprofits.

Your Friends and Family

They are the ultimate bottom line: the family and friends who love and sustain us through good times and bad. It’s for them that we work so hard to succeed. Show your gratitude every day by being there for them, taking time to listen to them, giving them a warm hug, and by telling them you love and appreciate them. Remember to spend quality time with family and friends. As the old saying goes, no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at work.

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