Cliché but true; it’s all about the little things. The smallest gestures to acknowledge others (or lack thereof) send a powerful message.
The new employee in Accounting brings about twenty years of experience to the organization. Her amount of expertise will likely make a great contribution. And the first thing my friend (a colleague to the new employee) says about her is, she’s great. She says good morning to me each day as she walks in the office.
She sits at the front desk and greets every person who enters the building with one of the warmest smiles on the planet. The secure nature of the lobby (because of the privacy/compliance guidelines of that industry) and the types of questions she deals with on a regular basis could easily make her lonely or short on compassion when answering the phone. Her positive attitude and cheerful demeanor provide a wonderful first impression of the organization.
When the announcement is made about a member of the leadership team leaving the organization, an employee comments: “I don’t even know who that is.” The employee thought maybe that leader had walked through the building once, but they have no idea if it was him because he never acknowledged anyone in that employee’s area.
An employee recently shared an example with me about a time he was in a car accident while transporting a part across town to another worksite. His car was totaled, and he was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. While he was okay, the thing that upset him most was the fact that his manager never followed up with him to see how he was doing. Not a single call or text to see if he was okay. The check-in (literally, several days later) was to request an update on whether he needed any additional time off of work.
These are extreme examples, sure. And I share not to highlight the missed opportunities of some managers. But to show how much it means just to say hello or to ask how someone is doing. And how powerful a simple acknowledgment can be for most people.
Yes, there are amazing and complex theories about leadership and employee engagement out there. But don’t ever discount the most basic ways to acknowledge your fellow human beings. It’s the little things, regardless of your real or perceived position in the organization. The impact of a single positive (or negative) action can have a very powerful ripple effect.
What little things have most impacted you?