How Our Entirely Remote Team Shares Gratitude Every Day
November 19, 2018

How Our Entirely Remote Team Shares Gratitude Every Day

by Brian de Haaff

When was the last time you expressed gratitude to a co-worker? I am not talking about a quick “thanks” in an email. I am talking about taking a moment to tell them why you are grateful — for how they contribute to the team and how they make your own work better.

I have always believed that the happiest teams show gratitude every day.

Since everyone at Aha! works remotely, we have a structure in place for this. We call it “hatitude.” Let me explain how it started.

In 2014, when our fully distributed team was much smaller and gathering for our bi-annual company onsite at Lake Tahoe in California. I wanted to use part of our time together to highlight each person’s great work. Everyone would take their turn being in the spotlight while the rest of the team showered them with gratitude. And because I wanted that spotlight to shine extra bright, I asked each person to don a silly hat.

As we were getting started, someone quipped, “Hey, that’s not a hat of gratitude. That’s a hatitude.” And from that point on, the name stuck. Hatitude continues to play a significant role in our remote team’s culture today. We still put the hats on when we get together in person twice a year. And since we buy a new hat in every city we go to as a company, there are a few more to go around as we now approach 100 teammates.

But we do not save hatitude for the times we are physically in the same room — we share these messages across the company every day. Here are some recent ones:

“Hatitude to Amy for collating and sharing some useful information ahead of a customer demo that I have tomorrow.”

“Hatitude to Taylor for late-night copy reviews so we are ready to launch first thing in the morning.”

“Hatitude to Jonathan for digging into a confusing integrations issue with me. Banging your head against a wall is always better when you have company.”

I can tell you that these notes make a huge impact. Not only do they allow us to pause and recognize how important small acts of kindness are, but it also helps inspire more effort and care. In fact, research shows that teammates who receive appreciation outperform those who do not.

In the fractured and often disheartening world that we live in, I know that celebrating others matters now more than ever. And whether you are a leader in name or title, you can help create a culture of gratitude in your workplace. Here is how to start:

Spot opportunities
It begins with recognizing the people around you. Make it a habit to look up from your own work and recognize what your teammates are contributing. Some contributions are obvious — the teammate who helped with a big customer or important presentation. But you should also take note of the less-visible efforts, such as the person who consistently troubleshoots issues.

Share immediately
Once you spot these opportunities, share your thanks right away. This is when the feelings of gratitude are most fresh in your own mind, so your words will carry real meaning. And it is also when the recipient is most likely to feel your thanks. Our team at Aha! does this daily in our group messaging tool, which has an entire channel dedicated to hatitude. If that is not an option at your company, you could always carve out a small amount of time at a weekly meeting.

Be specific
Sharing right away also allows you to use the details that are still fresh in your head. General statements of thanks are nice, but specificity carries a lot more weight. Consider the impact of someone telling you “thanks” versus something like, “Thank you for helping me pull the data and analyze it to answer that difficult reporting question. Not only did it help me save hours — but it also gave us the data we needed to convince the customer of the value we were providing to them!”

Stay committed
Strive to make gratitude a part of your daily routine. It can be as simple as sending heartfelt thanks directly to a teammate or mentioning their great work to their manager. The more you do these acts of gratitude, the more you might see others do them as well — spreading the kindness across the team.

Sharing our gratitude is especially important right now — more kindness is needed in our world.

We need people who choose to lift others up. We need gratitude. Start today to make it a part of your daily routine. And in the process, you will find the benefit of more kindness in your life — especially at work.

What is the best way to give thanks to a teammate?

Our team is happy, productive, and hiring — join us!

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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