A Little Gratitude

By Megan Reilly

We are now in one of my favorite months of the year, which I sadly feel is a little underrated. October has all things fall and pumpkin and Halloween and December has the beginning of winter, the first snow, and a holiday for just about everyone. Poor little November though. Stuck in the middle with good ol’ Thanksgiving which has unfortunately become somewhat of a kickoff holiday to the month-long celebration of commercialized Christmas.

I love Thanksgiving and am trying to give it its due this year. Maybe that’s because I’ll be home with my family for the first time in years on Thanksgiving while I won’t be home for Christmas. Or maybe it’s because I’m also attending a wedding of a good friend that weekend adding a little extra excitement. Or maybe it’s because I’ll be bringing my boyfriend home for a holiday for the first time ever. Or maybe because I’ll get to see my best friend for the first time in months since she’s been working in another state and we are from the same hometown, which means everyone I am most thankful for will be around me on Thanksgiving.

Whatever the reason, I have been thinking about gratitude a lot lately and I wanted to share that with you all. It all started a couple weeks ago when my boss called me into his office for a performance evaluation. Overall it was a run-of-the-mill evaluation discussion and I walked away pretty happy. This is usually also a time for preliminary goal-setting for the next six months and we discussed adding a few things to my plate that would be helpful to the team as well as get me more involved with the rest of the department (currently I work on the financial back end of things so I rarely see our field team).

One of these new responsibilities was to come to our weekly operations meeting on Friday afternoon which brings key players from multiple parts of the department in one room (my attendance makes 12 people in the meeting) to discuss operational issues for the week. In the past, there has been no agenda, no notes, and no formal way to follow up on action items from this meeting. Creating these was my new responsibility. To me, this was no big deal. I come to a one-hour meeting once a week, take minutes, and then send them out after the meeting with action items highlighted. Then I help my supervisor follow up with everyone the following week. No big deal.

I’ve now been in the meeting for the past couple weeks and everyone is getting used to my new established system. Friday afternoon (Halloween) was our quarterly departmental potluck and I was overwhelmed by the number of people who mentioned the notes to me. Among the comments I heard that what I considered a simple organizational tool has made them be more accountable, has helped them map the direction of their week, and has even made the meeting run more efficiently. The feedback has made me feel in only a couple weeks exactly what my supervisor and I hoped to accomplish – to make me feel like an integral part of the team. The meeting, although there is little discussed that pertains to the work I do the rest of the week, has become something I look forward to because I know I am helping my coworkers. I feel less isolated and more willing to go the extra mile in my work.

So keep an eye out this poor month of November for someone whose work often goes unnoticed. Mention to them what an asset they are to the team and tell them why you value their work. I have no doubt that a little gratitude will go a long way.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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