Years ago, I learned the value of spending time walking through our hospitals, talking with employees and patients face to face. I love to see where people work—and how they interact with one another. I’ve learned that it is a great way to get at least a small sense of how things are going in different parts of our organization. And it is an excellent opportunity to just listen—to pay attention to what people are thinking, what concerns them, and what brings joy and satisfaction to their daily routine.

We have the honor of recognizing things like years of service, or the achievements of specific milestones, or situations where a job has been done particularly well. But one of the things I’ve learned from spending time with our team in just about every work environment is that there is a strong and steady heartbeat of appreciation throughout our organization. It has led me to believe that we do a better job when we find ways to show appreciation for one another.

It may seem obvious, but I love it when I hear people say, “Thank you!” It is so simple, so familiar—but just acknowledging and recognizing one another in this way can help define the contours of effective teamwork.

Sometimes—and more often than you might think—I get e-mail (or snail mail!) from people expressing appreciation about one of our team members. I love it! And sometimes a manager will copy me on an e-mail expressing appreciation for something one of their team members has done, or an employee will communicate directly with me about the distinctive contribution a colleague is making. It makes a difference to affirm each other directly, and to share that affirmation with others.

In our work we have been trained to be careful about privacy. We know the necessity of keeping faith with one another. Perhaps that is why the stories we can share with one another are told with a certain reverence. And almost always, those stories express appreciation; they inspire us to value something that has happened and has made a difference.

Not everything I see or hear is positive. We are constantly striving to better serve our patients and better accomplish our mission. But when I hear reports of things that aren’t going well, or things that aren’t working, or mistakes that could have been avoided, the anchor that gives value to these accounts is the anticipation that we can do better—and a commitment to working things through that grows from our appreciation for one another, for our patients, and for our task. Respect is one of our core values, and I see it at work when we seek to address mistakes and right any wrongs.

Each day I find so much to appreciate in my colleagues. Each day I am challenged and encouraged by the passion you bring to Adventist HealthCare. I deeply appreciate your keen understanding of our company. I am inspired by the relationships that you so carefully nurture within your team and with your colleagues. And I have seen firsthand the difference it makes when you demonstrate your appreciation to those you work with and those we serve.