Appreciate the Person
This past week, I was reminded of an important fact.
My employees are people, too.
I like to think that I do a pretty good job of being aware that my folks have lives outside of Legion. I know most of their kids’ names (some of them aren’t real chatty or open, so it’s a little hard to find that stuff out), and I feel like I have a pretty good finger on the pulse of who is struggling with an issue at home (sick kids or parents, relationship issues), who is getting ready to celebrate something momentous in their life (marriages, babies, graduations), and who is just sort of chugging along, doing fine. And at least once a week, I have someone in my office, talking to me about something that’s bothering them, or bragging about one of their kids. That tells me that people feel comfortable talking to me and that they feel I care.
But, especially with my sales team, it never hurts to be reminded that we are *not* just our performance. So much of what we recognize and discuss with everyone is the typical sales “what have you done for me lately?” What are your numbers? How many customers did you close? Etc. etc. etc. It is easy, in that environment, to feel that the only value you have in the world, as a person, and to your organization, is how much revenue you can produce. And that’s a tenuous spot to be in. One bad week and your self-regard can fall off a cliff, which only affects your numbers even more negatively. It becomes a vicious cycle of negativity and self-doubt. We all, as humans, need to be seen for who we are, not just what we can do.
So, last week, when I was sitting in an executive training about how to appreciate your employees, I was reminded that I need to make sure Legion also focuses on the person behind the numbers. Are we asking, if a salesperson is in a slump, what’s going on outside the office? Are we paying attention to how people are interacting with each other and making sure they know they can talk to us – if they want to – about what is going on? Are we being consistent in our celebrations of the good things in people’s lives, and in our support through the difficult times?
Yes, performance is incredibly important. Yes, salespeople in particular have to perform to a certain level. They are the engine that drives the company. But just like a real engine, without care, without service, they will freeze up and stop running. Appreciation is the fuel for the engine, but care and consideration are the oil. An engine doesn’t run without both.
The performance, dedication and loyalty I’ve gotten from my employees who feel that Legion genuinely cares about them outside the hours of 7:30 – 4:30, Monday through Friday, is far above what I’ve gotten from anyone who thought we regarded them simply as a revenue stream or profit center. Taking five minutes to ask them how things are going for them personally is a minimal investment that pays major dividends. I learn a little bit more about them as a person, and they get to feel like a person in my presence. It’s a win-win.