I was pretty young when I started my first business. I had no clue about the importance and value of daily acts of kindness with my staff. I suppose I was not any younger than most entrepreneurs, and actually it was my second business I am writing about today. I knew nothing about taking care of my employees. I am so glad that I could grow into the position of being a boss because most of my staff were more like my peers. I am pretty sure they had a lot to say behind my back of my youthful ways, but when it was go-time we were a fun, happy and kind group of people serving our customers with great success.
Over the years I am often asked by my customers how I was able to find the nicest staff. And I had to agree. I have had THE nicest employees. Not only were they good to me as their boss, but they were good to our customers and our customers returned and my staff stayed for years. It was often a new marriage or a new baby that moved an employee along in life and out of my employ. And many of my staff, actually most of my staff, are friends on social media and we continue to interact and keep up with each other’s day to day lives. Years ago, one staff member who had moved out of town was back in town for a weekend. When she called and said she wanted to see me, my then, business partner said, “How do you get your employees to like you? I never liked any of my bosses.” I told her that it took kindness, a verb played out through note cards, intentional actions, fancy snacks, shopping trips and lots of practice.
For the month of January I am focusing on ways to treat your staff. This is not big corporate stuff. This is small town, ( The Portland, OR area is not really small town) boutique business, less than 60 employees kind of stuff. In each post I will talk about one of the five acts of kindness I showed my staff. I highly encourage all the big guys and gals in big business read, as this all applies to big or small business. And what is that key ingredient? Kindness. And it
Here are my best Daily Acts of Kindness for YOUR Employees” Part One
Not just cards with nice pretty little notes with a hand written gesture of appreciation in them, but actually using a note card. Let’s face it. We business owners have ALOT running through our minds daily. The last thing to remember is the few details of an employee’s personal life. Yet, as the leader of the troops the measures to embrace the heart of who our employees are is a gift in ways that go beyond the next sales.
Let me explain. Shelby was a fantastic energetic young employee. Her first big move to the big city of Portland. During our interview she explained a few things to me about her personal life and I took notes. I took notes on an actual note card like this. I put the card in her file. I then hired a few more staff members and did the same. My business was growing in leaps and bounds and my staff grew from 2 to about 20 in less than six months. One day I pulled those note cards out, reviewed them and went on to my sales floor.
I took time that week to connect personally with each of my employees. Asking them questions about the topics on the note cards. They had no idea I had written down these details about their personal lives. Nor did I ever tell them I had made notes. I could not believe what happened over the next few weeks. It was as if magically moral was raised. Employees seemed happier and the biggest change was one by one each employee felt they could come in my office to discuss. Discuss what? Discuss customer situations, their own thoughts on the store, and it was not just one employee. It was ALL of them. And during those times at my desk I asked about their lives, and made more notes and more note cards.
This became a regular habit. I did not wander the showroom with my note-cards. I reviewed the note-cards. I would then have a brief chat with an employee after reviewing their updated note card. Asking about the details, “How are your wedding plans coming?” “Is there anything I can do to help out?” “Did you get all moved into your apartment?” “What store is your husband working at? I will be sure to get my tires from him.”
Why? Why did any of this matter? I believe that we sometimes forget the influence, role model, and culture we are are responsible for providing our staff. I wanted each of my employees to know that I genuinely cared. And I know I failed at this the first year or two in business. I was focused on running a successful business and assumed that by hiring good people success would follow. Yet, when I took a personal interest in each employee it made a difference.
I remember working for my dad in a company called Supra Products. I worked out in the factory building locks. This company was big and worldwide and later purchased by General Electric. Yet I watched this man, my dad, the president of the corporation walk into the factory every other week and hand out paychecks. He shook hands, asked the employees questions about their lives and believe me when I say this, IT MADE A DIFFERENCE!!!
There does not have to be this brick wall between you and your staff. It does not matter if you are a business owner, manager, or a staff of two. Be intentional. I do not fault myself for having to write on note-cards to remember the details of my staff and their personal lives. Go today, buy a package of note-cards, or open a file on your phone just to log what makes your employee happy outside of work, what challenges they are facing. As you ask questions and just listen, it is only 3-5 minutes of your time. The impact will be better that what you expected. Even if you are an ogre by nature I am pretty sure that putting money in the bank is important. No matter what kind of business you are in, your staff will perform better when they know the big boss cares.
Plain and simple NOTE CARDS.
Daily Acts of Kindness for YOUR Employees