Everyone arrives with a bag filled with Valentine’s Cards, signed and sealed with names on the outside of the envelope.
Secretly, or not so secretly, this is a day many have long been awaiting. Will I get a card from Bobby or Andrew or Betty or Ashleigh? And if I do (or if the “rules” state that everyone gives everyone a card) will it say something special, something unique? In other words, will the card be special just for me?
The teacher lines up small boxes, possibly personalized and decorated by each person during a recent art project. At the designated time, students are asked to distribute their cards in the appropriate boxes, and then the long wait for the afternoon party happens. Everyone tries to pay attention but the draw of those boxes filled with Valentine’s cards and treats is too much.
Finally, the afternoon party comes and everyone gets some snacks, and most important, all those cards! Most kids will open their cards quickly. Later, on the bus, some they will read them again, and at home, safely in the privacy of their room, they’ll read them again carefully looking for hidden clues about the sincerity behind each card.
We are all far removed from the Valentine’s Day traditions of our youth, yet there are lessons in the story.
Our employees, secretly or less so, want our attention and want to know we care. Just as the opinions of Ashleigh or Andrew were so important to us on that Valentine’s Day in our past, your opinion is important to your team today. On the surface at work, people might not seem to care if the positive feedback is generic or if you treat everyone equally. But when they retreat to their office, or home, they are looking for clues that you notice, value, care about, and think about them, as individuals.
Are you showing that you care about your employees on an individual basis? Or are you relying on a cut-and-paste, one-size-fits all, cookie cutter approach when you provide praise and feedback?
On Valentine’s Day, don’t just think about your romantic love, think about how you can share your appreciation and respect with your team. It won’t require flowers or candy; it will only require your time, energy and focus.
Let people know you care. Leave your canned comments at home, and offer each employee a note with specific, detailed praise that shows how much you appreciate the work they put in everyday. The authentic, specific, caring comments that you make, may be replayed, reviewed and revered by that employee far longer than you could ever imagine.
Photo Credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/valentine-box-1316572