From today’s Dan Ariely column in the Wall Street Journal:
This past year I’ve worked alongside a wonderful group of colleagues. I am so thankful to have worked on this team. I’ve just been promoted and will now manage the same group. I worry that this will change my relationship with its members. Do you have any advice? —Erika
and here is Dan’s response:
In your new role, make sure to continue to express gratitude toward your colleagues. Their support will be crucial to your success, and words of appreciation can go a long way in motivating people.
Sadly, research has shown that when people get more power, they tend to express less gratitude, even though more power might come with more to be grateful for, such as a higher salary. One study looked at the acknowledgment sections of academic papers and found that authors with high-ranking titles expressed less thanks than their junior counterparts did. A study of Wikipedia editors found the same effect: Senior editors made fewer thankful comments than junior ones.
These results suggest a link between power and expressing less gratitude, but perhaps more powerful authors and editors expressed thanks less often because they received less help. A controlled lab experiment helped to identify the causal mechanism. Participants were offered help on an annoying task from someone they were told was either their boss or their employee. As in the previous studies, people were less thankful for help from a subordinate than from their manager, perhaps because they felt entitled to help from a lower-status worker.
People with more power are less prone to give thanks. Try to fight this tendency as you take on your new role with your old team.
No surprise, really. If you want people to treat you with respect as their boss, then you need to show them respect as well, and that starts with the simple act of gratitude for what those individuals have done.
Since I really do not have any “boss” responsibilities, I guess I’ll just be on the lookout to make sure my bosses show me some gratitude when I do something helpful.
I guess first, though, I have to figure out how to do something helpful…
*image from More Thank You Notes