Plan to Be Grateful and Build a Better Team

In addition to developing your goals, plans, and timelines for the coming year, what else are you accomplishing through your annual planning process?  If you are an efficacious advancement leader, you probably are employing activities and exercises that enhance a positive sense of teamwork among staff members.

I routinely encourage advancement leaders to increase the bandwidth given to annual planning and hold multiple planning days spaced throughout the year.  Not only does an extended approach to annual planning decrease the likelihood that plans will lie fallow on the shelf, it increases the likelihood that annual goals will be reached, and it can create the needed space to reinforce a sense of team.

Recently, I stumbled upon some research detailing an experiment that encouraged a stronger sense of teamwork and lessened the sense of entitlement among the participants.  Over the course of 10 weeks, the study asked people to list all of the things in their life for which they were grateful once per week.  Compared to those who did not make this list of appreciation, the grateful listers reported a greater sense of well-being, enjoyed better health, exercised more, and even were more emotionally supportive of others (the antithesis of an entitlement mentality).  Other studies have shown that people who practice gratitude also exhibit less aggression toward others, and are more helpful, more forgiving, and more outgoing.  It seems that when we focus on what we have, even if it is just once per week, we focus less on what we should be given and more on how we can support others.  In short, we become healthier, in all ways.

Often, it is said in advancement that no gift is the result of any 1 person.  If you believe this (and I do), get your team together regularly for planning and progress review sessions – more than once per year.  And while you work on creating and assessing your annual plans, goals, and timelines, ask people to list and share what they are grateful for.  It might just make them healthier people and it might just make your advancement team more effective.


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