Just think about the special, important times in your life. Many of them are big events like weddings, graduations, or a birth of a child, and they certainly impact us in huge ways and can dramatically change our lives.
But more often, on a day-to-day basis, it’s the little things that can have the biggest impact.
In relationships they can be the wink, the smile, the fist bump or even the simple words of thanks that can totally transform our, otherwise humdrum day into one that we remember for a long time.
The same thing happens within the leadership structure. Promotions, special awards, standing ovations and public recognition are important in our work lives. They signify the major accomplishments that we’ve made and they have the ability to completely transform our lives in dramatic ways. But…these are usually few and far between and unless we are a rock star or Broadway actor, we will rarely experience these kinds of daily affirmations of our efforts.
Communication is one of the key root solutions to closing any Importance Gap, even if it is just making our team members feel important about themselves and their contributions to the team.
So what can we do? How can we let our team know that we appreciate them each and every day? Well, we must let the little things speak for us.
Little things can be just as impactful as any of the big things we do for them. We don’t necessarily need to create a standing ovation each and every day or give out prizes for contest in order to motivate our team. What we must consider are the simpler acts that we do unintentionally which sends our message of communication to them, and then we need to intentionally adjust these messages to create the verbiage that we care. I’m talking about things that can be either verbal or non-verbal, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and having a genuine interest in the people that we work with each day.
When someone calls us or stops by our office, do we respond in a way that shows that they are important, or do we sigh and continue to type on our computers while they talk? Do we put down our cell phones and look them in the eye and smile while they speak? Do we listen to the message behind the words and ask real questions about what they are sharing? These things show that we care more than any awards can. A simple smile or question about a person’s personal life demonstrates that they are more than just a worker. They are an important piece of our organization and they truly matter.
Here are some quick tips:
Look them in the eye and smile when they are speaking
Get off your chair and walk to their office instead of sending an email
Call them instead of texting
Close, or lower your laptop lid when they enter your office
Ask how they are before talking about tasks
Send a handwritten note, even if on a Post-It with a word of thanks or encouragement
Compliment them about anything, new shoes, new hairdo, etc. (keep it professional of course)
Ask about their weekend
Talk about personal interests (music, movies, books, etc.)
Remember the “80/20 Rule” (they speak 80% of the time, you speak only 20%)
Now of course we must keep our conversations professional and legal. We certainly cannot cross that line, but it IS possible to show that we care more about the people than we do about the tasks.
In life the little things all add up to be big things and leading people can be very complicated. We need to get things done. We need to accomplish tasks and reach goals. In order to reach these objectives and expectations, however, we need our team members to feel truly invested in these things. Touching their spirit is key and while the big things that we do for them are nice, the little things demonstrate that we truly care.
What little things are you doing right now?