Updated: Aug 27, 2019
Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.~ Dennis Prager
I was sitting in a conference room getting some work done the other day and I was approached by a teacher's aide (TA). (Before I go further, you must know that teacher's aides are sorely overworked and underpaid and immense responsibility with little training is bestowed on them daily.) This TA approached me and, well, I'll just share the conversation.
"I'm glad I caught you. I was going to send you an email, but I figured I would run into you here because you are always here. I wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you for always being so respectful of me. I have been in several meetings with you over the years and you always remember my name, have never referred to me as "the aide", always listen to my concerns and value my opinion, you always say hello to me and ask me how I'm doing."
Now, this post probably sounds like I'm boasting about how great I am, but truly, it's not. I want to point out a couple of things that she said. Number one, she said that I'm always there. I work in 8 schools, so my time is very limited. This comment reinforces the importance of being visible. If you are in a leadership role, it's important that those you "work for" see you and know you are present and available.
The open door policy when you don't have a door and spend a lot of time in the trenches is ensuring that you are seen and show interest in what is happening.
Further, she listed several actions that I have taken over the years that resonated with me. I was raised to respect everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do. My parents taught me that the custodian is as important as the CEO. Without the custodian, the business would not be clean or attractive to customers. He taught me that each job was an important cog in a wheel and that wheel couldn't roll without every cog! So, when the TA said these things to me, I had to stop and think. To me, it's just natural to do these things, it isn't a skill I had to learn or practice. Doesn't everyone treat people this way?
When you are in a leadership role, you must know the people around you, make them feel important and value their thoughts and ideas. It's critical that every cog in your wheel know that you see them and appreciate the effort they put forth to make the organization successful.
Here are 5 easy steps to ensure the people in your organization know their value.
Know everyone's name. From the person dumping the trays in the cafeteria to the person sitting at the helm. Never refer to a person as their position.
Greet people in passing and use their name if you can.
Ask opinions of people and thank them for sharing their thoughts.
Show appreciation for a job well done. Take time to drop a note, send an email or make a phone call.
Treat people well and hold them to high standards and you will see productivity and morale increase in your organization.