One of the better ideas I saw this year was during a tour of a lean company. It saw that “Appreciation” was one of the items on the agenda for the tier 2 daily accountability meeting. Each morning the area team leaders and support function leaders hold a standup meeting for 15 minutes at a visual display board in the cafeteria. They go through each section of the board which include operational topics such as the daily company bulletin, shift start issues, previous day’s problem resolution actions and so forth.
After reviewing the operational items on the agenda, one or more participants read what they had written prior to the meeting in the Appreciation section of the board. These words of thanks are peer-to-peer, such as, “Big thanks to Chris for stepping to meet with the service tech yesterday when I had to leave early.” These are not for major accomplishments that require applause and recognition. They are for small actions that we may take for granted. Perhaps we’d already said, “Hey thanks for doing that,” in passing or in an e-mail.
What’s the value in taking time each day to show appreciation to colleagues for small things? Some of these actions may just be part of the job. First, thanking people makes them feel good, and the sincere repetition of this action builds mutual trust and respect. Second, showing appreciation for small efforts contributes towards a culture in which people don’t ignore the small things, and find small improvements. Third, and perhaps most important, putting the appreciation on the daily agenda reminds each of us to be grateful.
Yet another reason to put appreciation on the daily accountability meeting agenda is that the natural focus of these performance status reviews is on what’s not going according to plan. It is a brief meeting to identifying issues, abnormalities, and problems. It is management by exception. If we are not careful, tier meetings can take on a negative tone or become a complaint session. In a continuous improvement culture, we are encouraged to look at our current situation critically, be dissatisfied with status quo, and strive for small improvements. Adding small daily doses of appreciation helps balance the constant reminder to solve problems and raise performance.
Studies have shown that practicing gratitude each day acts as a natural stress-reducer with associated benefits to health and well-being. Even without tier meetings and visual boards to make it part of the daily routine, gratitude is not a difficult habit to develop. It can be as simple as setting a daily reminder to reflect for a minutes on the smallest feeling of gratitude and verbalizing your appreciation.