Showing Gratitude – It’s Fundamental
In my first week as an intern at Kuzneski Insurance Group, I expected nonstop onboarding and to start learning about content and growth right away. What I did not expect was to have my first field trip out of the office on my fourth day -- and to the local high school, of all places. A fellow intern and I helped Laurie transport and set up a thank-you lunch at Indiana Area High School for the end of her youngest son’s senior year, and to thank the teachers for taking care of all of her children during their high school years.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting when I stuck around in the teacher’s lounge after the food had been all set up. I was thinking the teachers and staff would come in, grab a plate, and say a quick thank you on their way out to their next class. What actually happened opened my eyes to how important gratitude and thankfulness really is. (And it reminded me how great of a cook Laurie is. It was, for lack of a better term, torture watching others get to eat the lunch she made.)
As we watched the teachers come into the faculty lounge, it was both amusing and surprising to see their faces light up at the table of food. Every teacher and member of the staff that walked in was so excited for lunch that day, not only because it smelled delicious, but because they knew it was made for them. They knew that this lunch was a sign of thanks from Laurie for all of their hard work, and you could see the impact of that gratefulness in their smiles and the way they said thank you to Laurie -- when they walked in, during their meal, and again as they were leaving. Laurie even received multiple follow-up thank-you emails.
From my perspective, all I could think about was how impactful a simple lunch was to an entire group of people at Indiana High School, and how that sign of gratitude would be remembered for a long time. Now, showing gratitude might seem like an easy thing to do, and I’d like to think that people are quick to do it. But from personal experience, many places of work and education do not value this simple fundamental. As someone who has been working since age 15, I didn’t find an employer who regularly showed me gratitude or made me feel valued as a worker until I went to college.
One of the first things you learn at KIG is their 31 fundamentals, The Kuzneski Way. Number five is “Show Gratitude.” It reads: “Recognizing people doing things right is more effective than pointing out when they do things wrong. Regularly extend meaningful acknowledgment and appreciation — in all directions throughout our organization and beyond. A simple act such as a kind word or a handwritten thank-you note can have enormous impact.”
All I could think when first reading this was, of course, why would any business not put this into practice? If a manager I once had had simply thanked me (after I stayed late, came in on a day off, or after a particularly rough shift), I may have stayed at that job. Feeling underappreciated, or not appreciated at all, for your hard work has serious negative consequences for both employer and employee. I didn’t feel inclined to stay, and that business lost a hard worker.
Since coming to KIG as an intern, I am already putting this fundamental into full practice, whether that be showing gratitude verbally for all the help I am receiving or by handwriting notes to those who let me sit in on meetings and ask annoying intern questions. And getting to watch Laurie make and serve lunch to the entire teaching staff at the local high school showed me firsthand that these signs of gratitude do make a lasting impact. I know those teachers will remember that act of kindness for years to come. (Laurie might even get emails asking her do it again even though all her kids have graduated!)
Now, making 200 chicken cutlets, pounds of pasta, and 100 brownies might be one heck of a thank you, but I know that a simple note can also make a difference. I’ll stick to those for now!