My wife discovered a story about a teacher who changed her/his work culture with a simple plan that anyone can implement at their organization. Her/his work environment went from back stabbing haters to appreciative givers in a few short months.
A teacher (still no one knows her/his name) didn’t like how teachers and administration treated each other. Staff gatherings were filled with fighting, politics and fear. No one seemed to even tolerate each other. This one person decided to take problems into his/her own hands.
S/he created an Appreciation Program
- S/he would leave a note for a co-worker and tell them how much s/he enjoyed working with them.
- S/he left candy bars with a note.
- Little stuffed bears with a note.
The most important part was the note. Each note described, in detail, what s/he liked about the person.
No one could figure out who the person was because s/he threw everyone off the trail by also giving her/his-self a present too. Everyone received presents and the mystery continued. As people were trying to figure out who the generous person was, the culture began to shift. People started treating each other better. Other teachers and administrative staff began to copy this teacher. They left little gifts and notes for each other. They wanted to repay the kindness.
This person never came out and took credit because it would have wrecked everything s/he accomplished. S/he let everyone believe that it might be one of their friends. It could have been anyone and the mystery added to the love that built friendships at the school.
You Can Too
If your work environment is dreary and needs a shock of love to get it happy again then try this for yourself. Just start giving small little gifts, under $2 and a little note. Just sit back and watch what happens.
Would you ever try something like this at your company? Would your co-workers beam with happiness? Would you just have to confess if it was you who made everyone so happy?
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Image courtesy of Knitty Cent
22 thoughts on “How to Change Your Company’s Office Culture”
This is delightful.
Mm, it would be exciting, a little nerve-wracking, but I think very rewarding to try.
I'm not sure if I am active enough at work for it and, when I think of the go-getter environment there, I wonder about the response...but, I suppose, one would need to try in order to see.
If I do, I'll keep you posted - secretly I guess 😉
Wow, what a wonderful story Karl! I love this idea - and it shows that it doesn't take much to show a little love and appreciation to others. And it doesn't take much to have them respond in a positive way. And it's the anonymous part that really drives this one home. You just don't know who started this - who it is who is being so nice. One small gesture to really change a culture - it says to me that it doesn't take an army - that "I" can make a difference... And that's a powerful thought! What a great message!!
I'm not much of a note guy, but showing appreciation certainly goes a long way. Like they say, "kill em with kindness."
I love this story! One person can change a toxic work place culture, and this story proves it. I hope this catches on in workplaces across the globe.
This is a lovely true story, Karl. I don't work in an office anymore but this almost makes me wish that I did so that I could do something like that!
Hi Lance, we have so many tools at our disposal if we just get a little creative. You are right - we don't need an army just a little determination.
Hi Nathan, yes! A little kindness mixed in with some personal touches gets the crowd feeling good again.
Hi Juliet, a little nerve racking, but think of yourself as a secret agent on a mission. It could bring some much needed excitement.
Hi Karen, toxic cultures can wreck lives. I hope this idea catches on too.
What a pleasure to read of a person who (a) knew they could make a change and (b) did it.
As others have said - very inspiring. Thanks!
Reminds me of the random acts of kindness stories. Service like this does feel good once we remove expectations of return. Very inspiring Karl, let's others know what is possible in your work.
Karl, this truly inspire me. I may not do the same thing, but I get the message that we have to show our co worker that they are needed and appreciated.
Great idea Karl, thanks for sharing it. 🙂
What a touching story! I recently spoke to someone who created an appreciation at work training program. I'm going to forward your blog to him...he doesn't have a blog yet, but maybe there is something there.
A little appreciation goes a long way!
Hi Alec, when I heard this story I was blown away that the person didn't take credit. I'm sure that's really why it worked.
Hi Arswino, showing our co-workers how much we care can make all of the difference.
Hi Tom, random acts of kindness is another great technique that a lot of businesses are using to get some PR. Whatever it takes for people to be ultra kind I'm all for it.
Hi Stacey, I'm curious to how it's going. Maybe you could tell him that I would like to share his successes on this site.
I like it.
I like the mystery of it - the fun. I also like the fact it's personalized.
I think it spreads good thoughts and good thoughts spread good energy.
Everybody likes to feel appreciated. Great story. I am sending it to several friends and my sister-in-law who is a teacher. Some churches could use this idea also.
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Great story Karl.
It is sad though that people need to be motivated in this manner - but it is powerful way to shift culture of a place! Culture is something that is so ingrained - only the best strategies can shake it!
This story is about awareness. It takes one person at a time to change a workplace culture and the old adage of teaching by example far outweighs not taking any action at all. Very sweet!
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i work in an accounting department with guys, and this gesture is impossible there.
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