Posted on 7:49 PM by dave
"I'm going to buy some of the folks downstairs some Dairy Queen on my way back into the office. Do you want anything?" I asked.
"Yes, I'd love a treat but why are you buying the folks downstairs some?"
I could tell that my supervisor's tone was genuinely curious and not malicious but I was a taken a bit off guard.
"Well, they've helped me out a lot with entering orders and taking care of some of my customers recently and I just wanted to tell them 'Thank you'," I replied with appreciation saturating my words.
However, I could sense my intention was causing my boss and friend some uneasiness as I attempted to state my case for this benevolent act.
"Oh, I see. Well, that's their job," he said matter-of-factly. "You shouldn't feel obligated to tell them 'Thank you.' That's what we hired them to do."
He maintained a friendly tone but I could hear the tension in his voice.
"Okay," I tried to respond as upbeat as possible although I was quite aggravated with his answer, "Do you still want me to pick you up something?"
This was not the last conversation like this that I would have with this supervisor. Furthermore, he was not the first or last manager that possessed this same attitude towards his team.
It's funny to me that my supervisor said, "You shouldn't feel obligated," because what I felt was nothing like obligation. What I did feel was a sense of gratitude for all the ways my fellow team members supported me and made my responsibilities within our organization easier because of their sacrifice.
The simple power of a genuine "Thank you" is an important conduit into building long term camaraderie on any team.
Not only did I buy them ice cream that day... I did it again and again and again. I even went so far as to sit down next to them some days and thank them for helping me. Then, get this, I would talk to them and listen to their daily struggles and routine. I would laugh with them. I would share frustrations with them.
Something mysterious happened when I embraced this simple, yet effective, posture of gratitude... they asked me how they could help me! It was crazy! Over the following months and years, they sought me out and willingly aided me with very little hesitation... even with some very difficult tasks. They were even willing to go above and beyond their normal role of responsibilities to assist me. Conversely, they rarely volunteered to help my supervisor who viewed their role to help him as a requirement rather than a request. Let's be honest, anytime we ask for help, it is a request. If we demand help, we may get what we want from that person but at the expense of cultivating a meaningful partnership.
We must see our team not as hired help but as valuable, contributing equals within our organization regardless of their title.
Titles are given and we should hold them with an open hand. The recognition that everyone is a human within our organization from the janitor to the receptionist to the sales manager to the CEO is a foundational requirement that we must adopt to create a culture of cohesive togetherness. For in our discovery of the humanity within our organization, we find this reality to be present and true: each person has a soul that yearns to know that they are noticed and that they are appreciated-- this is the power of thank you.