Workplace

Build Your Creative Pipeline, Day 3: Cultivate Gratitude

It’s one thing to share ideas with the group—it’s another to accept each idea as worthwhile in a spirit of appreciation. Setting the right vibe can help a lot.

This is Day 3 of our creative pipeline series. Day 1 was about building a space for creative thinking, while Day 2 was about observing and sharing ideas. Keep an eye out for future entries in the series this week.

You already know where and how to share ideas, but do you know how to build the right culture to accept them?

That’s a consideration we’ll work through with the third tip in our creative pipeline series: Cultivate gratitude within your ranks.

How to Cultivate Gratitude in Your Culture

There are lots of ideas out there, but not all of them are going to help your organization reach its goals. That doesn’t mean discouraging ideas that aren’t immediately useful is the answer. After all, few ideas are ready to go the moment they’re uttered, and some just come at the wrong time.

The way to counteract naysaying is by setting a baseline of gratitude: not just gratitude for ideas that are clearly winners, but gratitude for people who dare to contribute and share their thoughts—and for team members’ contributions overall.

For leaders, this can take the form of simple encouragement—think personal, handwritten thank-you notes to employees about specific ideas. (And for leaders who want to work on their personal graciousness, maybe a gratitude journal is a good idea.)

Organizationally, having an accessible way to share thanks—such as whiteboards, whether a big communal one or a bunch of small ones—can help everyone cheer on successes big and small. Think of it as a less-stuffy version of the employee of the month.

There are even ways to work gratitude into your routines. Perhaps at the end of a meeting, you have participants say what they’re grateful for, whether it’s something big (say, a large donation from a donor your team has long wooed) or just in the tiny things that make life better (say, the existence of coffee).

Why You Should Cultivate a Culture of Gratitude

By creating a culture of gratitude, you encourage people to have more positive emotions about their ideas, which encourages them to be more creative overall, according to controlled trials conducted by academic researchers.

Cultural gratitude also works against knee-jerk tendencies to trash the ideas of others or reject ideas out of hand, which can discourage people from sharing their thoughts in the future.

But don’t force it. Making it so people have to be positive about the ideas of others might create “toxic positivity,” which can disregard a person’s true feelings by encouraging the suppression of negative emotions.

“Toxic positivity at its worst can diminish trust, negatively impact engagement and productivity, and hurt company culture,” Forbes contributor Julia Wuench wrote.

And that certainly wouldn’t match the culture of gratitude you’re trying to create.

(Bozena_Fulawka/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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