Extraordinary leaders know engagement starts when they really get to know their people.
Craig served as the product development manager for a midsized manufacturing company. As a new product launch approached, his team of technical experts would be hitting the road to make certain that those who talked directly with customers understood the benefits and features of the product. Craig reasoned that his team would not be motivated to travel if it took them a month to recoup out-of-pocket business-related expenses.
Craig called his administrative assistant Diane into his office and explained that he wanted to start fostering a positive, strong relationship with expense reporting in hopes that any kind gesture on his part would mean his employee’s reimbursement checks would be a top priority by the folks in the Expense Reporting Department.
“How big is that department, Diane?” Craig asked.
Diane thought for a second, and then spoke, “Expense Reporting has eight full-time employees. However, only two of them work in the cash reimbursement role. There’s just Roberta and Kim.”
“Great,” Craig interrupted. “So there are only two of them we need to worry about,” he said with relief.
Craig swiveled in his chair and opened his closet. He pulled out a box of fancy chocolates from a stack of identical chocolates at the bottom of his closet. Next, he tore off a sheet of paper from a pad that read “From the Desk of Craig Paulson” and wrote a few lines while Diane waited:
Dear Ladies of Cash Reimbursement,
I’m new to the company, but I can tell already that we will be relying greatly on each other.
Please accept this box of fine chocolate as a token of my appreciation for what you do, and as a down payment for what we will need in the future.
Craig then taped the note to the box of chocolate and handed it to Diane.
“Please take this down there right now. Thanks,” Craig said, as he waved his hand dismissively in Diane’s direction.
Diane looked down at the note as she headed out the door and then paused. Turning back to Craig, she said,
“Um, Craig, I took a quick look at your note, and I wanted to let you know. . . .”
Diane’s comments were interrupted by ringing phone on Craig’s desk. Craig answered it on the first ring, and again dismissed Diane with a wave of his hand.
With a shrug, Diane walked off.
An hour later, Craig motioned for Diane to come into his office.
“Well?” he asked eagerly. “What did they say?”
Diane reached into her pocket and handed Craig a note.
Craig’s face fell as he read it.
Dear Craig Paulson from Product Development,
Thank you for the box of chocolates. They look delicious. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to enjoy these at this time. I have been on a fitness program to lose weight, and this doesn’t fit into my diet. But it sure would have a year ago!
Kim also expressed his thanks, but since he is diabetic, he won’t be able to enjoy them either. We hate to see them go to waste, so I hope you don’t mind that we re-gifted the chocolates. We gave them to Diane. Since it’s her birthday, we thought this would be a nice gesture.
Thanks again for thinking of us.
Your friends in Cash Reimbursement
Forget trying to apply one-size-fits-all “rewards” to others. Unless you really know your people, you’re apt to end up trying to look like a leader instead of actually being a leader. It’s a relationship, remember? When you’re in a relationship, the goal is not to look like you’re in a relationship; the goal is to act like you are in a relationship by being happy, loyal, committed, kind, etc.
Build relationships the old fashion way: one at a time. Treat each person as if you value them. Know them better so you can care for them better.
What are you going to do today to really get to know your peeps?
Except from upcoming release of Go Positive! Lead to Engage training program. For more details, click here.