Thanksgiving and Modern Day Business

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BY KEISHA JOHNSON

We are in the season of Thanksgiving where traditionally we gather as family and friends to share a wholesome meal of turkey and home style goodness topped with great conversation.

The tradition lives on for some of us to pause and reflect on the many blessings we’ve experienced to date.

At our table for example, each person says one or two things we are grateful for. We have a general prayer, maybe sing a few songs and get back to the rowdiness of debates and competitive board games.

Well, not really! That’s how it used to be. Now, our family lives away from the rest of our siblings and blood relatives, all dispersed in other countries.

We almost didn’t remember it was Thanksgiving and when we did, we were at a loss as to what to do.

Do we call some folks in a similar position as us and have a potluck? Do we invite ourselves over to someone else’s dinner? Or do we just lay low and catch up on some much needed sleep and not make a big deal of it?

Things are changing. We can’t even recall what we did last year. Yet it’s an annual calendar event. And not just that, but a national observance of sobriety. I can hear my mother-in-law cautioning me to make some family traditions now that I have my own family. And so we should.

Thanksgiving has its place in our personal life and in business. As with everything else, to preserve its significance demands intentionality. Otherwise this simple yet invaluable gift can fade from our priority landscape.  

How does Thanksgiving even factor in our business operations? Let’s flip the term and call it appreciation.

Customer Appreciation. Employee appreciation. Business appreciation. All appreciation is significant to the health and even existence of our businesses.  In real terms, much like Thanksgiving, appreciation is a mainstay.

To show appreciation means we do something – small or grand – that the people who serve us and who we serve actually value.  Why? To show them that we value them.

Among employees, it is well documented that appreciation to recognize contribution, reinforces a sense of personal worth and security, which in turn lifts morale and boosts productivity.  It can be among the fastest and even least expensive ways to restore a toxic, unproductive work environment. Take time to get a little personal with your employees to learn what matters to them at their core and what they value most. You’ll soon discover the symbiotic links between appreciation, talent retention, productivity and your bottom line.

I recall someone sharing that when you are greeted in Africa, people typically inquire not just about your well-being but of that of your family, your business, your goat or whatever is of interest to you.  When they got to the United Kingdom, people would still pause, though more briefly, to inquire about you and your family and politely wait for your response. But in North America, they observed that you are greeted with a mere “Hi” while the greeter is approaching and walking away. We could argue cultural differences, but the fact remains that people still appreciate being appreciated. So let’s not be too busy with the business of business that we forget the people who make our business remain in business.

The notion of paying gratitude is simple and should not be left to chance. This is deftly true in customer relations. Neglecting to thank and engage our customers could mean the difference between a thriving and a fledging operation, especially with the advent of social media where experiences can so quickly go viral. Showing customers that we appreciate them not only strengthens the bonds of customer loyalty and builds goodwill, but it can also inspire innovation that helps organizations better meet customers` needs and outpace the competition.  

As to our business partners and suppliers! Hey, I think you get the gist by now. People do business with people they know, like and trust. If you are kind to your suppliers they will more than likely run the extra mile for you when needed. A simple token or unexpected Thank You card is probably all it takes for your business partners to consider you first even when the competition is family.

When all is told, we’ve realized we can`t sleep in on Thanksgiving or appreciation. We`ve got to be intentional. We`ve got to make it a tradition and we`ve got to make it count with the people who matter most.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

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