November 25, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
How do you give thanks at work?
One USA Today headline this morning read, "The spirit of the season: Be thankful, spend less."
I like these opening paragraphs:
"Sometime in the 1980s, when he was living on the street, the kid who later became the seminal rapper KRS-One stopped at the Bowery Mission for a sandwich. He doesn't recall what kind, only that it was served with respect.
On Thanksgiving Day, Lawrence Parker, now 44, plans to return to the mission, children and friends in tow, to cook, serve and rap for some of its guests. His message: 'This is where I started.'"
The article goes on to describe various themes surrounding the US recession at home and our country's wars abroad. Despite these trials, we head into the holiday season with hope. "Many Americans are refocusing by giving thanks for what they have, and by giving some of what they have to those with less."
As a technology executive, I can struggle to give thanks at work. Yes, I am grateful to God and my family for many things, including my career. I realize that I am truly blessed to be in a government job that I enjoy, but what are the best and most appropriate ways to express that to others? How can I genuinely impart my gratitude for all they do?
I sometimes fear that I am misunderstood when saying thank you. Are my actions seen as too public or too private, too personal or too impersonal? What if my comments seem self-serving? If I thank one person or group, might I neglect some other person or group that is more deserving? If I am too nice, will I be respected later?
I worry that my staff might think, "He's just saying that because he's the boss." Or, "He's just going through the motions because it's the holiday season." Hopefully, I am expressing thanks in sincere ways all year - but I'm sure I've neglected to appreciate how much others do to enable our organization's success.
Once I decide to "just say thank you," the method can even get in the way. Should I send an email? Communicate in private? Announce my thanks in public at a staff meeting? Send a card? Give a certificate? (Bonuses are out). Take someone to lunch?
Too often I get busy, and I end up doing nothing. Later, I regret my lack of thankfulness as I look back at projects and more.
So on this Thanksgiving Eve, what are technology professionals to do? Well, here's some relevant advice from President Theodore Roosevelt:
"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
What am I thankful for at work right now?
I am very thankful for our technology infrastructure staff that do such a great job day in and day out. I know I'm a phone call away from real help 7x24x365. In fact, I usually don't even need to call and problems get resolved by themselves.
I am thankful for no major incidents on the day start call this morning. And...
Last week, when we had six major incidents on a Monday, our staff fixed all of the problems very quickly.
I am thankful for my colleagues who do such professional work with a customer-focused attitude. We have a great group of hard-working pros in Michigan government.
I am also thankful for my customers, without whom I would not have a job. They always teach me something, if I'm prepared to pay enough attention and listen.
I am thankful for Government Technology Magazine and Public CIO Magazine who allow me to share this blog and my articles with you.
And last, but certainly not least, I want thank each of you for reading my blogs.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends - wherever you go this Thanksgiving weekend.
Building effective virtual government requires new ideas, innovative thinking and hard work. From federal stimulus projects to enterprise architectures to cloud computing, Dan Lohrmann will discuss what's hot and what's not in the world of technology infrastructure.