The Gratitude Circle

Published: November 22, 2016

For many organizations, the mission and value statement is designed as a guiding light yet often collects dust in a fancy frame in the boardroom. For some, it is the checklist through which day-to-day decisions are filtered. How do you make mission and values real for employees? Consider the gratitude circle exercise in your next full staff meeting. Just follow these five steps:

Step 1

Provide everyone with a copy of the mission/values statement and ask each employee to consider how the expectations expressed in the document impact their unique role on the team.

Step 2

Allow everyone about five minutes to gather their thoughts and write some notes.

Step 3

Solicit a volunteer to go first by sharing the impact of the mission expectations on their role followed by a brief story of an interaction they’ve observed with clients or colleagues that illuminates these values in action.

Step 4

Invite every other member of the team to provide a few minutes of feedback to the story until everyone has had an opportunity to comment.

Step 5

The first volunteer chooses who goes next and the team continues the circle of gratitude until everyone has had a chance to share their story and hear feedback from all teammates.

Capture the take-away themes. Surely, follow-up conversations will unfold outside of the staff meeting. The narratives will trigger actions that strengthen the culture. Employees will begin looking for further examples of organizational mission and values playing out in the workplace. Dust off the fancy frame in the boardroom. Create a gratitude circle.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.