Saturday, January 30, 2016

Handwritten notes, building friendships, and the death of humanity in the workplace. (And in our lives)


Are we all little islands now? Little pockets of isolation, connected only by 140 characters or a ‘like” button?
We’ve met thousands of people on social media, and we don’t know any of them.
Not really.
When I was a kid, I knew which steps creaked in Tommy Riccio’s house, which of our moms made the best spaghetti sauce, and which dads told the funniest jokes.
Now…I couldn’t tell you five interesting things about more than maybe six or eight people on my Facebook friends list. Twitter, even less.
We’re desperately wanting to connect and all we have at our disposal is perhaps the loneliest, shallowest means of communication ever invented.
Remember when we wrote real letters, and sent them in real envelopes and the person would read them again and again because it was special to get a letter?
Now we “ping” “bing” “Tweet” “pin” and a host of other stupid trendy terms that took the place of connection. I recently saw this first hand. Without going into details, I watched as a guy was hired for a position because he had a certain skill set. The odd thing was, there was a guy with the same skill set, but with about ten more years’ experience and even greater success history right there in the department. The guy was never even asked. The bosses never even glanced at his resume after he was hired. If they had, they would have discovered that they had a multiple award winner already on their payroll. A simple conversation would have revealed that not only was he eager to impart that wisdom…he would have done so for nothing, simply because he loves that sort of coaching. Instead, they hired an outsider because they overlooked the resource they already had. Why? Perhaps because nobody gets to know each other anymore?
I have a customer base at my job as a BRM in the It department at Liberty University.
I have probably a dozen key contacts in those various departments. Just sitting here thinking, I bet I could come up with something for almost every one of them. Something that goes beyond my business connection and shows that I know them as people.
This one loves Christian music. This one loves Christmas. That one loves to talk about his family. This one loves personal development books. I know them. I remember one incident after I had only been on the job about six months. I made the statement that one certain customer, “never asks for much, but what he does ask for, he really wants.” My boss looked at me in amazement. I had come to understand that very quickly. My assessment of this guy was absolutely correct and my boss was impressed that I picked up on it so soon.
People work for a paycheck, but they perform for something much more.
They perform for pride, for the sense of doing a great job, for the satisfaction of turning out the lights at the end of a day and feeling like there wasn’t anything they could have done better. They want to feel like they are being used to the best of their ability. They also want to feel like they are seen. Like they are noticed and viewed as a resource and a valuable asset…not just a position filled. The guy with the wonderful set of skills that went unnoticed and ultimately got overlooked as a provider for the training they were seeking, got over it eventually. But it did something inside his heart. He went away feeling like he didn’t really have any value. Not really. He does a great job, but his bosses don’t know the first thing about him and that’s a shame. He’s an amazing guy with a ton of insight. I get a lot from him when we speak. He’s a big boy and he got over it, but I might always wonder how he would have flourished had his bosses even gotten to know him enough to get his input on the topic, much less hired someone else.
This all comes back to connection. There are managers who think that it weakens their position to make a connection with their people in anything beyond a surface, nondescript manner. Then there are those who draw the best out of their people because they took the time to get to know them well enough to see the best within them.
We need to connect. We need handshakes and smiles and eye contact. We need this from the top down. We need to rid ourselves of the habit of thinking and feeling in 140 characters. Of speaking for the sake of an invisible like button. We need to stop looking at the man in the mirror and seeing only a selfie.
We can’t build a department or a company where everyone is on the same page, with the same goal if we are a company made up of little isolated islands. Once a year team-building isn’t the answer either…it’s creating a culture of team and family. It’s setting aside 30 minutes each day to review a few employee files and remember some birthdays, and ask about some kids. It’s knowing your people, and your coworkers well enough to know what other skills they have that haven’t even been explored yet.
It’s breaking free from this virtual reality lifestyle we have and getting back to humanity.
This keeps tanks full, faces smiling, and personal growth exploding.
And people feeling like humans again. I'm trying this more and more each day in my job. I try to really know my customer base, build trust based on genuine care, concern, and a desire to see them reach their goals on our campus. This endears them to my heart and makes them more than their title says they are. Business practice might shun the idea, but I find it vital, and my customers truly love being seen, noticed, and cared for. They know, even if I can't give them exactly what they are asking for, that I want them to succeed. They know this because they know I care for them as people first. 
This is the only way to do customer service. 

                                                               High Hopes!



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