People are the greatest asset of any business. We hear this so often, but do we truly place caring for and about the people we work with at the top of our priority list?
How easily we become immersed in the challenges and emergencies of the day – the irate customer, the vendor who didn’t deliver on time, a new competitor, critical financial spreadsheets. We mean to nurture and recognize the people who work for and around us; we really do. When it comes down to it, though, do we really know what it means to take care of our employees?
I’ve heard some say, “Well, I pay them don’t I? Isn’t that enough?” If your only objective is to simply comply with legal requirements, you are on the right track. For most of us, though, this isn’t enough. We would like to have happy, productive and loyal employees. Not only does it make for a more pleasant work environment, it is good for business. Underperformers and employee turnover require extensive management time, while decreasing morale for the other employees.
While we are all busy managing the myriad of daily tasks, we often overlook the simplest motivational tool – a kind word. We’ve all heard the expression, “Catch someone doing something right.” When things go poorly, we “catch” them or take notice right away. This allows employees who are “under the radar” because they are doing well to feel unrecognized. Performance which meets our expectations doesn’t command our immediate attention the way problems do.
There is much good news in this in that this is easily addressed. At least once each week, make it a point to “catch” each person doing something well, even if it is something they do everyday. It can be as simple as a sincere remark: “I really appreciate the way you listen to customers and respond to their needs”, “I know you had to work extra hard to finish that report this week”, “You’ve gone out of your way to help our new employee” or the two most important kind words in our vocabulary – “Thank you.”
No, a kind word will not keep employees motivated if they do not feel treated fairly in other ways, but it is a tool we should all keep handy in our leadership toolbox. As with all new habits, it is work to develop them, but becomes easier with practice. Just remember – be sincere and be timely.