Sometimes the smallest interactions can serve as the greatest lessons and reminders in life. We have to pay attention or we may miss them. I’m pretty sure I had one of those today, so I decided to share it with you.
Today one of our customer service team members did a very normal job, on a very normal day, in an entirely normal way.
As she wrapped up her day, I stopped her to say thank you.
This wasn’t a normal thank you in passing like you may offer for someone holding a door or passing a napkin. Rather it was a conscious expression of gratitude. Neither planned nor founded on any particular activity, but just a simple thank you in the spirit of the day in and day out work that she does and the value that she brings to the organization.
Although I hadn’t had many conversations with her, I had noticed over the past few months that she is a consistent performer. Never flashy and hardly outspoken, she brings an old-fashioned strong work ethic that should make any manager happy.
After a brief pause to my expression of gratitude she looked up and in a very routine way she responded by saying “for what?”
Quickly I responded, “Thank you for all that you do each and every day.”
She looked at me, with a bit of surprise and said “You’re Welcome.” Then she asked me, “Why are you thanking me for doing my job?”
The first thing that came to my mind is what an unfortunate question to have asked of me. This person has come to work, put her head down and done quality work for years and I could only wonder if she had ever been thanked.
After a momentary pause to reflect and choose my words as I wanted to be certain that my response was sincere, I looked up and said. “What you do for this organization matters. Each day you interact with our most important customers, suppliers, and employees. You act as the face of our organization and you do a great job.”
She smiled, said “No problem, just doing my job” and started on her way. However as she walked away she stopped and looked back at me and said “Thank you, that means a lot.” Then she continued on her way.
I honestly have no idea whether it really meant a lot, but I could only assume that she was telling the truth. More importantly, it served as a wonderful reminder to me that a small thank you may be one of the greatest ingredients for creating big results.
As business leaders, we sometimes have this sense of satisfaction in the opportunities we create for others. While being proud isn’t something that we should be ashamed of, this satisfaction does needs to be balanced with regular moments of self actualization.
In these moments we must stop, and remember to be thankful for those who give themselves in so many ways to contribute to and share in the success that we set out to create. Again, not a thank you for doing a task, but a sincere expression of gratitude for the investment that they make. An investment of time and intellect. Their service and contribution that helps make our organizations what they are. These are intangibles that cannot be reproduced or replaced by a system, process, or procedure.
Upon taking this moment we must remember to find our way within those regular (and not so regular) interactions to say thank you, and then to make sure that we say it often.